Bill to re-enroll past recipients of FamilyCare released by Senate Budget Committee

The Senate Budget Committee released a bill that would allow people who fell out of the FamilyCare program to be re-enrolled and that their eligiblity be treated in a fair and equitable manner by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Specifically, the bill, S1758, states that for the purposes of determining income eligibility for parents or caretakers in the FamilyCare Program, the state Human Services Department shall not establish any limits on the amount of unearned income a parent or caretaker may receive, if a parent or caretaker’s gross family income is within the income eligibility limits of the program, and shall treat all sources of income, both earned and unearned income, in the same manner. 

“Unearned income” includes, but is not limited to, income from such sources as child support, unemployment, and other government benefits.

Sen. Joe Vitale (D-19) of WoodBridge, a sponsor of the bill (Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-39, of Demarest, was the other sponsor), said the new eligibility requirements shoved out a lot of residents in need of those health services, and his bill would correct that. Some 21,000 residents were cut from the program.  

It’s not clear how much it would cost to provide care to residents who re-enroll.

The bill also states that any parent or caretaker:  (1) who was continuously enrolled in the NJ FamilyCare Program prior to March 1, 2010, (2) whose gross family income remains at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and (3) who was cut from the program after March 1, 2010 because of modifications made by DHS in the calculation of gross family income, shall be re-enrolled in the program and shall not be treated as a new applicant.

Under new DHS rules, if a parent or caretaker’s unearned income (typically from unemployment insurance or child support payments) exceeds 30 percent of their gross family income, the parent or caretaker would not be eligible for NJ FamilyCare, even though their gross family income was below the income eligibility standard.  The change in calculating gross family income also has prevented, and continues to prevent new applicants for NJ FamilyCare (whose gross family income is less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level) from qualifying for the program if more than 30 percent of their income is considered unearned income.

Bill to re-enroll past recipients of FamilyCare released by Senate Budget Committee