Assembly To Convene Special Tuesday Hearing On Christie Plan To Slash Medicaid Health Care Program For Poorest New Jerseyans

dr_shanik's_offc_tlsA special Assembly Budget Committee meeting has been scheduled for this Tuesday to discuss Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to slash the Medicaid health care program for New Jersey’s poorest residents. During testimony before the committee earlier this year, the administration repeatedly failed to detail its plan to slash Medicaid, but a recent report by The Star-Ledger described how it plans to propose cutting people making as little as $103 a week from Medicaid.

“It now makes sense why the administration, despite repeated questioning, refused to detail its plan to slash health care for New Jerseyans struggling daily to make ends meet,” said Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden). “After all, who would want to stand behind a plan as fiscally irresponsible and unrealistic for working families as this proposal? The administration has some explaining to do and we expect nothing less than detailed and forthright answers. Anything else will be unacceptable and insulting to the taxpayers of this state.”

 The committee has invited Commissioner of Human Services Jennifer Velez and acting Commissioner of Health and Senior Services Mary O’Dowd to discuss the plan.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) voiced opposition to the governor’s plan on Thursday.

“The outcome of such a cut would be easily predictable – many working class New Jerseyans would simply turn to emergency rooms for more expensive health care, driving up costs on hospitals that cannot afford it,” Oliver said. “The administration’s continued theme of only looking out for those most fortunate is long past being tiresome. It needs to dump this plan and come up with a more humane approach. I cannot envision this concept being approved by a Democratic Legislature dedicated to fighting for working class New Jerseyans.” TLS.

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  1. I dont understand. If you make LESS than 103 you will be kicked off medicaid or if you make MORE than 103? Can someone please clarify.
    Also why is TLS posting a picture of Dr Shaniks office. I use his office even though i dont have medicaid…

  2. They used Dr Shanik’s office because MOST of his patients are on Medicaid and that is why you have to wait so long to get an appointment. I use his office but only go when I really feel it is warranted and forget about rechecks. I can’t afford the copay. And certainly not my whole family just in case, because one family memeber is sick with strep. But with Medicaid it doesn’t cost anything so why not? Even a $5 copay would reduce the patient load. While I have nothing against being on services ( I was on them back in the day) There has to be a way to neutralize this effect. Maybe have separate hours available for Medicaid patients.

  3. The Christie administration originally said that its proposed comprehensive waiver for Medicaid would “allow the state to redesign and manage its Medicaid program in a manner that creates efficiencies and better management of care.”

    It was a shock then to learn that the waiver will result in even more reductions to the NJ FamilyCare program and will result in tens of thousands of parents not receiving any health care. This cut is in addition to the budget cut approved last year, which reduced the FamilyCare income eligibility cutoff for parents with two children to $25,000 from $36,000 a year and terminated coverage altogether for most legal immigrant parents who have been in the US for less than five years. We estimate those cuts resulted in about 50,000 parents being denied health coverage last year. The cut from last year will also increase that number of uninsured parents to about 90,000 this year. The administration has not released the impact of the new cuts for this year but it will be in addition to the 90,000. Currently there are only about 119,000 parents in this category left in FamilyCare which will decrease over time as these parents leave and cannot return if they become uninsured again.

    This newest cutback is even more Draconian because it targets some of the poorest families. An uninsured parent with two children earning more than $5,317 a year would no longer be eligible for health coverage. That is about a third of the federal poverty level. That means that an uninsured parent working full time at a minimum wage job wouldn’t be eligible for health insurance through NJ Family Care. A parent who works half-time for minimum wage wouldn’t even qualify. This creates a dis-incentive for parents who want to play by the rules and work to support their family.

    Unfortunately the only way these parents can become eligible for health coverage in the future is if the parent applies for and is eligible for welfare. That sends the wrong message. The state should be rewarding those who work and take personal responsibility.

    This reduction is also bad for children. In a comprehensive report on FamilyCare, NJPP found that about 45,000 fewer children participated in FamilyCare over four years when enrollment was previously closed to parents in 2002. We will also shortly release the results of our research on the cutbacks last year in parent eligibility on children. Although this change was relatively recent, we found that it is already reducing enrollment of children.

    In order to reduce the eligibility for FamilyCare, the state must apply for a Medicaid waiver because the federal health reform legislation championed by the Obama Administration requires a “Maintenance -of-Effort” by states seeking greater control over Medicaid expenses. That means that in exchange for broad flexibility to make other changes in Medicaid that reduce state costs, states may not reduce eligibility or create barriers in applying to the program.

    Waivers however can only be approved if they meet the objectives of Medicaid. It will be critical therefore that the federal government not approve this waiver request since its only purpose is to deny health care to the poor.

    It will also be important that the New Jersey Congressional Delegation oppose a bill (HR 1683) that would eliminate the Maintenance-of- Effort requirement which is being considered today in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. New Jersey Congressmen Pallone and Lance are both on that committee. Sadly, Congressman Lance is a co-sponsor of this legislation, even though the governor has made it clear he will use it to make immediate cuts in New Jersey and the congressman’s own district.

    Whether it is at the state or the federal level, jeopardizing the health of our most vulnerable citizens is just plain wrong and should be strongly opposed.

  4. I believe that government is not a forum for Charity. Private organizations should take the lead in helping the poor. Government is voted in by the rich AND the poor. It is obvious that the poor will take from the rich against their will. Please don’t moderate valid points even though they are not popular.

  5. The biggest problem facing the US is all these entitlements. Face it, the US is broke and will soon face default unless something draconian is done. I hate to say it, but if does happen, you will face much bigger problems then no medicare.

  6. FYI, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will also be conducting a hearing on Monday, June 6th regarding the impact of the proposed Medicaid Comprehensive Waiver.

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