Effort to restore over $6M in FamilyCare funding clears committee

The Assembly Human Services Committee released a bill today that would provide a  supplemental appropriation of $6.4 million in state funds to the Department of Human Services to restore services to people in the state’s FamilyCare program.

The legislation, A3938/S2751, would enable adults with income between 134 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level to enroll and continue to be enrolled in the NJ FamilyCare program. These State funds will generate approximately $11.9 million in federal funds on behalf of adults with income between 134 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Sen. Joseph Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge, the prime sponsor of the Senate version, told the Assembly panel that the restoration of funds is essential to providing the safety net for those who work, make very little money, and simply don’t have health care access.

He said not restoring the money will force those people to use emergency rooms more, which will put a strain on hospitals that they won’t be able to handle.

“This is not the way health care should be delivered,’’ he said. And if the administration’s Medicaid waiver goes through, he said, the situation would grow worse, affecting those at 25 percent of the poverty level.

The Assembly bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, (D-37), Englewood, and Herb Conaway, (D-7), Delran, was in response to the FY 2011 appropriations act that froze enrollment of adults at 133 percent of the federal poverty level as of March 2010, and made other changes affecting adults currently enrolled in the program. Since March 2010, the number of adults enrolled in NJ FamilyCare has been reduced by 19,200, according to the bill’s backers.

At a monthly cost of approximately $238 for each adult NJ FamilyCare recipient, restoring eligibility to such individuals immediately would cost $18.3 million (gross) for the balance of FY 2011, according to the bill’s estimates. The companion is S2751.

Effort to restore over $6M in FamilyCare funding clears committee