Obamacare keeps shrinking the ranks of N.J.'s uninsured, Census data shows

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About 66,000 more people in New Jersey had health insurance in 2016 than the previous year, according to a report

About 66,000 more people in New Jersey had health insurance in 2016 than the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The latest data shows that the number of uninsured N.J residents has continued to drop, a trend that policy analysts attribute to the success of the Affordable Care Act.

"It's an extremely positive trend. It shows that the Affordable Care Act is working in our state," said Raymond Castro, director of health policy at New Jersey Policy Perspective.

In 2013, Gov. Chris Christie became the eighth Republican to have their state join  the ACA's Medicaid expansion plan. The Census bureau noted that the drop in uninsured population may be due to this expansion.

Between 2015 and 2016, the number of people without health insurance decreased in 39 states, and the uninsured rate in N.J. decreased from 8.7 in 2015 to 8 percent in 2016.

In 2016, the percent of uninsured N.J. residents was lower than the national rate.

Nationally, the percentage of people uninsured also declined -- 8.8 percent of the national population, or 28.1 million people, were uninsured in 2016. In comparison, 2015 had 9.1 percent, or 29 million, uninsured people.

Castro voiced his concern about attempts to repeal former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

"The Affordable Care Act can be improved, but it does not need to be repealed," Castro said.

Through 2016, the Affordable Care Act picked up the entire cost of additional people covered under Medicaid. In 2017, the state will pick up 5 percent and by 2020 it will foot 10 percent of the bill.

The percentage of uninsured people in New York was 6.1 percent, followed by 5.7 percent in Delaware, and 5.6 percent in Pennsylvania.

Disha Raychaudhuri may be reached at draychaudhuri@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter. Find her on Facebook.

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