The benefits of Medicaid expansion are only opportunities – they will not be achieved without sufficient resources. Our main concern is that no funds were allocated in the governor’s budget for outreach, marketing, and contracts with community-based organizations to reach the uninsured and help them fill out the application.
The fact that New Jersey will rely on a federal exchange to determine eligibility and the level of subsidized premiums to be paid under ACA does not relieve it of responsibility. It just means that it will receive minimal federal funding to discharge those responsibilities.
During his gubernatorial campaign, Corbett liked to say he need only “look across the Delaware River to New Jersey” for a good governing role model. This is one instance where he should follow Christie’s lead and take this federal opportunity to provide hardworking families with the security of quality health care.
The combination of the Medicaid expansion and the premium subsidies that will be available in the exchange under the Affordable Care Act should result in a major positive economic and health impact in the state. However, the real promise of this legislation will not be achieved unless there is effective outreach.
Gov. Christie is to be commended for making the right decision and expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This is one of the most important decisions that any governor has made in Medicaid since it was established 48 years ago.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) more than 300,000 New Jersey residents who don’t have health insurance could have affordable health coverage starting next year, and the state economy would get average annual boost of about $1.7 billion – money that the federal government has set aside for New Jersey to provide this coverage. These benefits alone should persuade Governor Christie to accept available federal funds to expand Medicaid. However, there is another crucial reason to do so: immediate and major budget savings over the next decade.
The administration has had over two years and about $9 million of federal funding to study the ways to make an exchange work best for New Jerseyans. It has decided that not only should the federal government have primary responsibility, the state should have no responsibility. This hands-off policy is a big change for a state that under both Democratic and Republican governors has been in the forefront in protecting consumers and providing affordable health coverage to uninsured children, families and people with disabilities.
Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would not only provide health coverage to 307,000 newly eligible low-income New Jerseyans, it would benefit the economy in all parts of the state and create many jobs. The Medicaid expansion would bring an estimated $15.4 billion to New Jersey from 2013 to 2022, an average of $1.7 billion a year. The economic potential would be equivalent to building the Meadowlands’ MetLife Stadium, a casino the size of The Borgata, or three large hospitals every year in New Jersey.
Hurricane Sandy has shown us that the Gov. Christie can transcend petty partisan politics when it concerns the vital interests of New Jerseyans. He needs to demonstrate the same outstanding leadership for the hundreds of thousands of hardworking New Jerseyans who need better access to health care by opting for the Medicaid expansion now.
The New Jersey workers who would benefit from the expansion work in a range of industries, from restaurants and retail to construction and education. Expanding Medicaid would not only benefit these workers, it would provide an economic boost to some of the largest industries in New Jersey by creating a healthier and more competitive workforce. In fact, not expanding Medicaid would put the state at a distinct disadvantage since many businesses would be more likely to locate in other states that provide health coverage for their employees though the Medicaid expansion.