“Ensuring that children have a healthy start in life has been a personal priority for me,” Governor Corzine said. “It has been a precedent in each of my budgets and last July, we even expanded the program to include a child mandate and enrolled thousands more kids and their families. And when the Bush administration tried to cut 10,000 kids out of New Jersey’s Family Care Program, we said ‘NO,’ taking appropriate legal action. So I am particularly proud that through this new Express Lane option, New Jersey is making even greater strides to reach and enroll every eligible child and in doing so has become a national model for other states to follow.”
In her recent visit to New Jersey U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised New Jersey for its aggressive enrollment strategy and said Governor Corzine has set the standard for efforts to cover more children to ensure they get the care they need.
“New Jersey did not wait to take action to help these children and their parents,” Sebelius said in a recent newspaper editorial. “Even before Washington acted, Governor Corzine signed health reform legislation that required all children to have health insurance and established a working group charged with reaching out to and covering more children. This was a key step that laid the foundation for extending insurance to more children.”
The Obama Administration recently committed an additional $286 million for NJ FamilyCare as part of $6 billion in new federal Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) funding.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS), in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Treasury, is using information from NJ-1040 forms to identify uninsured children. To date, more than 450,000 children in the state do not have health care coverage, according to data provided by their parents at tax time. New Jersey is the first state to use the information gathered from the streamlined process to enroll children in the state's children’s health insurance program.
In early June, DHS sent out a regionalized Express Lane mailing to 54,000 households in Middlesex, Union and Somerset Counties. About 4 percent — nearly 2,200 families — have mailed back their applications for processing. To increase awareness and response, the department will be promoting each mailing and enlisting the support of legislators, local social service agencies and faith-based groups to buoy its efforts.
“This Express Lane application mailing will help remind families that there are health insurance options available for their children at very low rates, and for some, at no cost at all,” said Commissioner Velez. “As of now, more than 3,200 families have taken advantage of this simple application and we have been able to identify eligible families we might not otherwise have been able to outreach.”
Two health insurance programs are available to help New Jersey’s families. Both plans, NJ FamilyCare and NJ FamilyCare ADVANTAGE, cover children’s doctor visits, prescriptions and other medical costs.
NJ FamilyCare is a low-cost or free program for income-eligible families. For instance, a family of four earning up to $77,175 (or 350 percent of the federal poverty level) can qualify to insure their children for about $130 a month in the state- and federally-funded program. Presently, 578,404 children are enrolled in NJ FamilyCare.
NJ FamilyCare ADVANTAGE is a “buy-in” program for families earning more than 350 percent of the federal poverty level. The maximum monthly premium is $411 for a family with three or more children.
Families, whose health insurance status may have changed since filing their 2008 returns, also are encouraged to apply using the basic one-page NJ FamilyCare application. For more information on the NJ FamilyCare programs, call 1-800-701-0710 or visit www.njfamilycare.org.
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