Coalition pushes for expanded Medicaid

TRENTON – A coalition of religious, labor, and health organizations urged the Christie administration Monday to expand Medicaid in the state.

The group was to deliver a petition of about 2,000 signatures and a letter to the governor’s office urging Gov. Chris Christie to accept federal funds for that purpose.

A report issued Thursday claims that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act could bring more than $1 billion into the state as well as provide coverage to more than 300,000 New Jersey residents who don’t have health insurance.

Putting a face on the problem today was medical technician Juan Seguinot, who said that ever since he was laid off in November at Meadowlands Hospital, he has had difficulty providing coverage for his family of four, which includes a 9-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter.

“I hope the governor understands how important this is to us,’’ said Seguinot. The COBRA insurance system, he said, is unaffordable, and so an expanded Medicaid “would help alleviate hardship and stress.’’

Several advocates said that expanding Medicaid is morally and ethically the right thing to do, that it would save the state about $2.5 billion over nine years, and that it would cost the state about $4.2 billion if it elects not to expand Medicaid.

Dena Mottola Jaborska of N.J. Citizen Action pointed out that 22 states, including eight led by Republican governors, have opted for an expanded Medicaid, while 17 states opted not to do so.

The coalition members said they are hoping to hear Christie address the Medicaid situation in Tuesday’s fiscal year 2014 budget address, in part, because they said they need to get outreach efforts under way now in order to get as many newly eligible recipients as possible into the expanded Medicaid.

“Why would we not accept this,’’ asked the Rev. Heyward Wiggins, pastor of Camden Bible Tabernacle and a representative of 20 congregations calling for expanded Medicaid.

He said people “put faith in the idea that if you work hard, you will be able to provide for yourself and your family. The expansion of Medicaid will help to keep this faith alive.’’

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Report urges N.J. to expand Medicaid Coalition pushes for expanded Medicaid