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Ahead of state Senate Obamacare hearings, Christie defends allowing insurers to decide on cancelled policies

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Gov. Chris Christie said Obama's executive order giving the states the option to decide the fate of the policies was
Gov. Chris Christie said Obama's executive order giving the states the option to decide the fate of the policies was "incredibly incomplete and inaccurate."

Gov. Chris Christie defended his decision to allow insurers to determine what to do with cancelled policies under the Affordable Care Act and again called on President Barack Obama to “tell the truth” about past claims regarding the law.

Christie's comments on Obamacare, during a press conference Monday at the Statehouse, come just days before the state Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on the decision regarding the cancelled policies of roughly 800,000 New Jersey residents.

Christie made the call last month after Obama asked states to consider granting a one-year extension for policies not in compliance with the law's minimum requirements and thus, slated for cancellation.

Christie said Obama's executive order giving the states the option to decide the fate of the policies was "incredibly incomplete and inaccurate." Christie noted that with the potential for higher premiums, the order again does not ensure that people will get to keep the same policies they currently have as promised.

"Same means same," Christie said. "He said you could keep your same policy and he's wrong about it and it's affecting 800,000 New Jerseyans."

Christie said that in 2010 after analysis was gathered, former state banking and insurance commissioner Tom Considine wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services warning them of the threat of policy cancellations, despite Obama's claim that people would be able to keep their current policies if desired.

"We knew it back in 2010," Christie said. "The president continued to say otherwise through the election in 2012."

As he has done previously, Christie called on Obama to "belly up to the bar and just tell the truth" about policy cancellations.

"The American people are a fairly forgiving lot," Christie said. "If you got it wrong, you got it wrong, but what they don't like is when they think you're dodging it."

Christie also used the time to once again defend his decision to not opt for a state-based health exchange.

"Basically, I was being given a package where I didn't get to control how it worked and I didn't get to know how much it cost, but I was in charge of writing the check," Christie said.

The Senate hearings are scheduled to begin at 1 Thursday afternoon. State banking and insurance commissioner Kenneth Kobylowski has been invited to testify and other experts will be given an opportunity to do so as well.

After calling the hearings last month, state Sen. and committee chair Nia Gill (D-Montclair) stressed the importance of hearing from Kobylowski on what was an "important decision."

"This is certainly a matter that cannot be taken lightly or without public discussion by the decision makers," Gill said in a statement.

Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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