Governor Chris Christie
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Christie,
I am writing to express my strong concerns, as well as my disappointment with your handling of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 1311 grant that New Jersey has been awarded.
As you know, on February 22, 2012, the State of New Jersey received a $7.67 million grant under Section 1311 of the ACA. This federal funding was awarded to provide our state with a flexible funding source to help educate New Jerseyans about the ACA, as well as facilitate enrollment. As you know, this money needs to be spent by February 22, 2014 or New Jersey will lose it. To date, only $3,000 has been spent.
According to a recent poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, only 18 percent of New Jerseyans polled understand the ACA "very well," and 31 percent of residents don't believe they understand the law at all. Of the people polled, 31 percent know "only a little" about the Health Insurance Marketplaces -- one of the major provisions of the ACA that the Section 1311 grant is intended to educate people about, while 33 percent know "nothing at all." These numbers show there is a clear need for additional outreach and education in New Jersey, and the federal Section 1311 grant can facilitate this at no cost to the state, while helping hundreds of thousands New Jerseyans get health insurance -- many for the first time.
There is no reason to delay this outreach any longer. When the State of New Jersey was awarded $25 million in federal disaster relief funding to promote the recovery of the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy, you not only spent the money expeditiously, but you also appeared in television advertisements paid for with these funds. Because of the precedent for you being the face of a federally-funded venture to help New Jerseyans, I would also encourage you to personally appear in any television or radio advertisements funded by this grant money, just as you did in the "Stronger Than the Shore" campaign. A personal overture from our Governor to the residents of New Jersey to take advantage of their new coverage options could have a significant impact on the law's success in our state.
The ACA is law of the land and implementation is moving forward. I urge you to spend the federal grant money that has been awarded to our state to help New Jerseyans realize the full benefits of the law.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress