WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) today introduced legislation that would provide federal funding to support states that have either established their own state-based health exchange in the past two years or are looking to establish their own exchange. Moving from the federal marketplace system gives states flexibility to expand coverage options, increase enrollment and lower health costs for consumers.
 
“New Jersey did the right thing by its residents by taking the initiative and creating a state-based health exchange to expand access to health care for individuals and families,” said Sen. Menendez. “This bill will help support states, like New Jersey, that have recently transitioned to state-based health exchanges and pave a pathway for other states wishing to switch from the federal marketplace to better serve their residents. This will inevitably expand health insurance coverage, increase options for consumers and bring down the costs of care.”
 
“By transitioning to a state-based health exchange, New Jersey has been able to put the needs of our state’s residents first and make health coverage even more affordable and accessible, which has been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Booker. “This bill will not only help New Jersey with its transition to a state-based health exchange, but it will also help any other state looking to do the same.”
 
“This legislation will help states establish their own health insurance marketplaces, like Pennsylvania recently did with Pennie,” said Sen. Casey. “When states set up their own marketplace they can expand coverage and give consumers more options. The federal government should be by their side supporting them, and with this legislation, that’s the way it will be.”
 
The State Allowance for a Variety of Exchanges (SAVE) Act would reimburse states for costs associated with establishing their own marketplace. 
 
Specifically, the SAVE Act:
 
·         Allows states that have transitioned to their own state-based health exchange after January 1, 2019 to be reimbursed for costs associated with the transition
 
·         Authorizes $200 million in competitive federal grant funding to help alleviate a state’s financial burden during the transition from a federal to a state-based health exchange
 
·         Gives states greater control and flexibility to regulate plans; control enrollment period, user fees and consumer assistance; and greater ability to attract people to sign up for coverage via targeted advertising
 
According to a 2019 Urban Institute report, states that built and ran their own health care marketplaces save money and have greater autonomy and flexibility in providing insurance options to residents. That greater control allowed Governor Phil Murphy to extend open enrollment to help New Jerseyans get health coverage during the pandemic, especially the unemployed who lost their employer-based health insurance.
 
“Health care is a right, and we must ensure access to quality, affordable health coverage,” said Gov. Murphy. “In New Jersey, we are proud to have launched a state health insurance marketplace, Get Covered NJ. This health insurance marketplace has helped make coverage more affordable for hundreds of thousands of eligible residents. I thank Senators Menendez, Booker, and Casey for their support of New Jersey and other states that have worked proactively to improve health coverage access through individual health care marketplaces.”
 
Prior to New Jersey’s transition in 2019 to a state-based marketplace, the ability for New Jerseyans to access affordable health care was subject to decisions made by the federal government, including efforts by the Trump Administration to undermine enrollment by cutting funding for advertising by 90% and reducing the open enrollment period from three months to six weeks. 
 
Congressman Andy Kim (N.J.-03) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
 
“Having access to affordable, quality health care is more important now than it ever has been, and the SAVE Act will help more states create the state-based solutions that achieve those goals,” said Rep. Kim. “We know that these programs work. It’s why a million Americans signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act during the past three months. Now we have to keep moving forward to improve and expand these programs. This bill is a bipartisan, common-sense way to achieve exactly that.”
 
A copy of the bill can be found here