Murphy stumps for ACA as open enrollment deadline nears

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

Gov. Phil Murphy’s message Monday was that there are just 12 days left to enroll in the Affordable Care Act. He made that announcement in Elizabeth at the main public library.

“This is one of dozens of locations, I might add, across our state where residents can simply walk in and walk out enrolled in health care for 2019,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the state has already taken steps to shore up the Affordable Care Act. Premiums in New Jersey are down 9 percent, he said, while nationally they’re up 12. The state has bolstered its insurance industry and readopted the individual mandate.

“It is extremely important residents realize that in New Jersey there is a requirement to have health care coverage. The alternative is that unless you qualify for an exemption, you will pay a penalty at tax time,” said Marlene Caride, commissioner of New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

“You know, the Republicans voted 67 times to kill health care. They have cut the navigators — the navigators are the people that help people when you call to get insurance — by 84 percent,” said Rep. Albio Sires.

“Any New Jersey resident who needs health care can simply go to one website: GetCovered.NJ.gov,” Murphy said.

In a separate back and forth with reporters, Murphy was asked about state official Katie Brennan and the hearing in Trenton Tuesday on her sexual assault allegation. She has accused a former Murphy administration official of rape.

Murphy, who’s got his own investigation going, said he has no problem with the Legislature conducting an inquiry.

“I’ve said that from day one. But again, let’s not be political. Let’s call balls and strikes. Secondly, let’s make sure we’re looking at all of government, not just pieces of it. And thirdly, let’s stand with survivors, be survivor-centric,” Murphy said.

We asked about Honeywell’s announcement last week that it’s moving senior management to North Carolina, where business taxes are low.

“I have to say, Honeywell, I wish them the best. I obviously wish they were keeping all their jobs here; they’re keeping 1,000 here. Taxes did not come up in one conversation with them. They said laudable things about the sort of economy we are trying to recapture and rebuild here,” Murphy said.

When we asked about his women’s pro soccer team moving into an environmentally-sensitive location, and his quick decision to cancel that, he called it a no-brainer.

“The minute I saw the plans that were 200 acres and not 5 acres, lots of clearing of valuable precious land, I want no part of that,” Murphy said.

One question going into Tuesday’s hearing is how closely will it touch on Murphy’s handling of the Katie Brennan allegation. The legislators could skirt that by focusing on process and procedure, or dive right in on who knew what when.