TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie said he is exploring letting the federal government set up the state health insurance exchange required by the federal health care overhaul to allow individuals to buy coverage.
He also said he is not sure that New Jersey needs to expand Medicaid under the federal law because the state’s program that covers the poor and disabled is already so inclusive.
The Republican governor made the comments while appearing on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” show, one of four national television appearances he was making Tuesday, a day after he told New Jersey lawmakers during a special session that they should cut taxes.
New Jersey legislative Democratic leaders said they had already agreed to a tax cut and accused the governor of trying to win more national attention.
Speaking on “Fox and Friends,” Christie told about how he rejected the legislative Democrats’ $800 million income tax increase, but he did not mention that it was intended only for people making more than $1 million or that the Legislature also adopted a tax cut plan.
Christie, who has been critical of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last week to uphold the federal health insurance overhaul, said again that the ruling was wrong.
He said that he is weighing whether it would be less expensive for the state to let the federal government set up a health exchange that each state must have under the law.
Christie said he would choose the most cost-effective option.
He also praised one part of last week’s ruling that reduces the federal government’s ability to force states to expand Medicaid to include people with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level.
“Medicaid is pretty well expanded in our state already,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a lot for us to do in New Jersey.”
In New Jersey, people with children are eligible for subsidized health coverage even if they make up to 350 percent of the poverty rate — or nearly $81,000 for a family of four.
There are various programs that serve childless adults with different income limits. But for those who are not pregnant, blind or disabled, participants must make less than the poverty level.
Later in the morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Christie said that the Obama administration should give more Medicaid money to the state with no strings attached, rather than specifying that each state should expand eligibility to the same level in each state.
“What works in New Jersey, I suspect, would be very different from Montana,” Christie said.
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