PARSIPPANY — Assemblyman Jay Webber laid into the Democrat-led Assembly Appropriations Committee for approving legislation today that would penalize taxpayers hundreds of dollars for not having health insurance.
“It’s just wrong for government to force people to buy something they choose not to buy,” said Webber (R-Morris). “We should look for ways to make health insurance affordable, but there are better alternatives to government threats and penalties. We can lower the costs by introducing more competition, less regulation and more choices for consumers.”
The bill (A3380) requires every taxpayer in the state to purchase health insurance or pay a tax to the state. About 189,000 New Jersey residents paid $93.3 million in penalties in 2015 under the recently repealed federal mandate, according to IRS data collected by liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective. Over 90 percent of those residents earned under $75,000, and 78 percent earned under $50,000.
“We shouldn’t be penalizing people for not purchasing insurance when they can’t afford it,” continued Webber, who is the Republican appropriations officer. “We should be doing everything we can to lower the cost of insurance, because when it’s affordable it’s accessible.”
The new state penalty would cost as much as a bronze-level health insurance plan, which costs $522 annually – a 9 percent increase over last year.