Good afternoon Chairman Danielsen and members of the Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to provide my testimony on the proposed Easy Enrollment program. My name is Dr. Brittany Holom-Trundy, and I am a senior policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). NJPP is a non-partisan, non-profit research institution that focuses on policies that can improve the lives of low- and middle-income people, strengthen our state’s economy, and enhance the quality of life in New Jersey.
NJPP strongly supports the establishment of an Easy Enrollment program for New Jersey. Extensive research has shown that, in addition to affordability, a significant obstacle to lowering uninsured rates lies in the enrollment process itself. A lack of easily accessible resources for many residents means that there are residents who are eligible for affordable care who struggle to enroll. This program would take a regular event in the calendar — the filing of tax forms — and turn it into an opportunity for people to quickly and easily receive information about coverage for which they are eligible, simply by checking a box.
The idea of easing enrollment is not a new approach: we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic that a pause in disenrollment in Medicaid — resulting in the removal of constant re-enrollment burdens for those who may lose eligibility temporarily or need to switch to new coverage — has helped to lower the number of uninsured New Jerseyans. Additionally, similar, more limited options have existed for decades, including through programs like Express Lane Eligibility for enrolling children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. These programs, when fully addressing the needs of residents, not only reduce obstacles for those residents, but decrease administrative costs where data sharing can eliminate redundant paperwork.
To ensure the program’s efficacy, legislators and administrators should take lessons from successful enrollment experiences in other states — specifically in Maryland, where a similar Easy Enrollment program is already up and running (url listed below for further information). Waiving the shared responsibility payment is a good step to provide an upfront incentive for people to participate. Pre-populated forms, structured follow-up outreach systems that involve feedback and coordination with community organizations, and auto-enrollment for those who qualify for free coverage would further ease the process and limit excessive time requirements for enrollment and verification. Finally, setting a required implementation date would ensure that this program is established in a timely manner.
We hope that the Committee will release this bill today and support the building of this important program.
Thank you for your time.
Link to a brief overview of Maryland’s Easy Enrollment program, mentioned above: https://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov/easyenrollment/