Assembly members had the chance to assert that maintaining nutritional benefits for struggling seniors, the disabled and children trumps short-term political considerations. While most members said “yes” there were not enough of them to override the governor’s veto.
The inability of the state to establish a modern eligibility determination system has disturbing implications for federal funding, the state budget, and struggling low-income families.
Legislators are right to focus seriously on New Jersey’s poor SNAP administration, which is causing unnecessary hunger all over the state and may result in a major loss in federal funds.
Evidence is mounting that New Jersey’s inadequate support of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is resulting in the delay or the denial of critical food benefits to hundreds of thousands of struggling New Jerseyans and the potential loss of up to $500 million in federal funds annually.
Just 13.2 percent of New Jerseyans were without health insurance in early March, down from 21.2 percent in September 2013. If the trend continues at this pace, New Jersey will have its smallest share of uninsured residents since 1990 later this year.
For an administration pledged to address the needs of our “most vulnerable” residents, this should be an easy (and quick) choice.
In all, a total of 264,000 New Jerseyans selected Marketplace plans and enrolled in NJ FamilyCare compared to the total enrollment goal of 185,000. New Jersey is on the fast track to reduce the number of residents without health insurance – and that will benefit everyone.
Congress has approved legislation that would allow about 160,000 struggling working New Jersey households the opportunity to continue to receive about $172 million in SNAP (food stamps) benefits annually if the state will put up a mere $3.2 million to help with heating bills. That is a guaranteed payoff of 54:1, which would make any Wall Street broker green with envy.
New Jersey has the opportunity to generate a substantial return on an investment while ensuring tens of thousands of residents keep important nutritional benefits — but only if the governor acts quickly. Will he follow the lead of his colleagues in Pennsylvania and New York and at least three other states, or will he allow a golden opportunity to pass New Jersey by?
There’s certainly some good news in the governor’s budget when it comes to Medicaid, but it unfortunately does not address a major problem that could be avoided.