A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would hamper New Jersey finances, according to state lawmakers fighting to save the national healthcare program.
New Jersey top state Senate leaders held a press conference Monday calling on Gov. Chris Christie and the Republican members of the state's congressional delegation to preserve the ACA and the accompanying expansion of Medicaid. The Democratic lawmakers argued that if President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress are successful with the repeal it could result in adding $1 billion in spending to the state budget on higher Medicaid expenses and cut federal aid to New Jersey by $3 billion.
"The costs and consequences of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act for New Jersey would be severe," State Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said in a statement. "More than 700,000 people who enrolled in the ACA or were added to Medicaid would be at risk of losing the health insurance coverage, the state would lose billions of dollars in federal aid and the state budget would be forced to carry additional expenses."
Trump's first executive order issued Friday just hours after his inauguration directing federal agencies to provide relief to state governments, businesses and individual Americans impacted by the ACA. Republicans in Congress are debating whether to immediately repeal the healthcare law spearheaded by President Obama or wait until a replacement program is in place.
Sweeney was joined at Monday's press conference by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, Paul Sarlo, D-Wood Ridge, chair of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, and Joe Vitale, D-Woodbridge Township, chairman of the Senate Health Committee. The senators argued that in addition to creating a budget hole and losing federal aid, the state's current savings of $350 million for its Charity Care program could be erased since ACA has cut down on the number of uninsured New Jerseyans.
"The fallout for New Jersey from the repeal of the ACA would have serious consequences for the state budget, the state's economy and for the health and well-being of countless New Jerseyans," Sarlo said. "Hundreds of thousands of people could lose coverage, the state would lose up to $3 billion in federal aid, we'd have to spend $1 billion more from the budget, the trust fund for uncompensated care could be hurt and jobs will be lost."
Christie's press office did not immediately respond for comment on the financial impact to New Jersey from a potential ACA repeal.