Background on this issue can be found in NJPP’s recent report (click here).
New Jersey’s request to the federal government regarding potential uses of a $7.6 million federal planning grant is disingenuous at best and ignores the real needs of the 900,000 New Jerseyans who lack health insurance.
The state is again requesting to use the funds for activities that were already denied by the federal government, rather than being proactive and using the funds for crucial outreach and education activities that would likely be approved by the federal government. Furthermore, many of the state’s proposed activities relate only to NJ FamilyCare and do not support the federal Marketplace, which was the intent of the grant. That is very unfortunate since the state has made it clear that it will not help individuals who have been denied NJ FamilyCare but are eligible for insurance in the federal Marketplace. This hands-off approach is inexcusable and insensitive to the needs of uninsured New Jerseyans.
It is also very disturbing that the letter states that New Jersey has not met is obligation to fully staff the NJ FamilyCare call center or to fully fund the data system which interfaces with the federal Marketplace, even though there is an urgent need to do so and separate federal matching funds are available for these activities. This inaction is jeopardizing the successful implementation of the Medicaid expansion and is no doubt resulting in struggling New Jerseyans being denied the health coverage they need. New Jersey appears to be more interested in saving money by replacing state matching funds with only federal funds than it is in addressing the urgent needs of the uninsured.
Most surprising is that the letter does not even mention using these funds for outreach and education which is sorely needed in the Marketplace. Hundreds of organizations in New Jersey and elected officials in Trenton and D.C. have urged the governor to use these funds for this purpose. There is a very good reason for that: polls consistently show that most of the uninsured are not aware the subsidies that are available to make insurance affordable in the Marketplace, so they do not plan to seek help they need. Where are New Jersey’s uninsured to turn? The state will not help them, and now it is clear nothing will be done to help the federal government reach them.
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