Shutdown sparks New Jersey confusion about Obamacare

 Photo by <a href="">captaincinema</a>.

Photo by captaincinema.

A protester holds up a sign at a health care town hall in Illinois in 2009.

By Yaël Ossowski |

It’s that time again.

The heat of looming deadline turns the nation’s focus to Washington, D.C. as elected representatives squabble over the next bill to fund the federal government.

The key to this specific debate is the fate of the Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012. Large numbers of House and Senate Republicans sought to strip funding for the health care law in the routine short-term spending bill that would keep government open for the next year. It’s gone back to the House after being reworked by Senate Democrats.

A failure to produce any bill by Oct. 1 will severely restrict the resources of federal agencies and bureaus across the nation.

Particular to New Jersey, many residents fear the threat of a government shutdown, but equally admit being uncertain about the fate of the new health care law.

Many New Jersey residents are still confused about the effects of the new health care law.

poll released Monday by Monmouth University and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute reveals a huge clue about how New Jerseyans view the president’s landmark law.

According to the poll, 45 percent of New Jersey residents are favorable to the health care law while 40 percent remain unfavorable, but a great number still don’t fully understand how the law will work once implemented.

“Many uninsured New Jerseyans could be in for a surprise if they elect not to get health care coverage and later find they have to pay a fine on their 2014 taxes,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in a statement.

The telephone poll was conducted with 783 New Jersey residents from Sept. 6-10 and a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

At least one politician from the Garden State is concerned about how this could affect key institutions and programs going on in the state.

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat from the 9th District, wrote a letter asking assurances from the Office of Management and Budget that a potential government shutdown wouldn’t affect the state’s cleanup efforts after Hurricane Sandy.

“Because of the multitude of federal agencies involved in processing requests and administering various forms of aid, I fear a government shutdown could harm our Sandy recovery efforts,” Pascrell Jr. stated in his letter.

Other politicians around the state are using the threat of a government shutdown to boost their fundraising at an uncertain hour.

Democrat Cory Booker’s campaign calls Republican Steve Lonegan a “tea party extremist.”

The campaign for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Democrat hoping to win election in next month’s special U.S. Senate election, sent out an email blasting his Republican opponent Steve Lonegan for saying he had “no problem” with a government shut down.

The email went on to label the Bogota mayor a “tea party extremist” involved in “dangerous and irresponsible games.”

“Mayor Lonegan does support the proposal that went to the Senate,” explained Will Gattenby, spokesman for the Lonegan campaign. ”But with Obamacare, we really don’t know what’s going to happen with our nation’s finances — not funding that portion of the government is a Republican proposal to change the budget.

“It’s the Democrats who want to shut the government down,” said Gattenby. “With this Obamacare monstrosity, the people of New Jersey will be impacted heavily and the data shows that we still don’t have all the information about this law. And that seems backwards.”

Booker’s campaign office did not return a request for comment.

Contact Yaël Ossowski at and follow him @YaelOss.

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