TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator John Adler which will bolster the State’s income verification process for Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare was signed into law today by Governor Corzine.
“New Jersey is fighting for every cent we can get from the federal government to help fund FamilyCare and Medicaid,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “We cannot waste our limited resources on health care for people who don’t need our help. The tougher income verification standards will make sure only those who qualify have access to these programs.”
The bill, S-1696, which was also sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, amends the Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare statutes concerning program application and renewal requirements. Specifically, the bill clarifies that one recent pay stub – rather than “no more than one” pay stub as outlined in the previous statutes – must be submitted by an applicant. Additionally, the bill requires, rather than permits, the Commissioner of Human Services to establish an internal auditing process and income verification procedures and to match applications to tax and employment records on file with the State Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of the Treasury.
The bill also specifies that renewal forms for Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare must be submitted prior to the date an enrollee’s or recipient’s annual eligibility expires, rather than “no later than 30 days after” the date eligibility expires as the law previously held.
The Senators noted that this legislation was written in response to lax oversight of income eligibility standards in Medicaid and FamilyCare which was uncovered by a March 2008 audit by the Office of the State Auditor. The audit found that some of the self-employed New Jerseyans served by the FamilyCare program failed to report their total income on their applications for coverage. As a result, families earning far above the income eligibility guidelines were improperly enrolled in FamilyCare.
“Health insurance is expensive, but a family making $300,000 a year can afford coverage,” said Senator Adler. “FamilyCare isn’t meant to cover the cost of care for the rich, but for working families who can’t seem to make ends meet. These new guidelines will make sure that benefits are there for those families in real need, not wasted on dishonest wealthy people looking for a free handout.”
According to the Department of Human Services, NJ FamilyCare coverage for dependent children is restricted to those families who earn less that 350% of the federal poverty level, or $74,200 for a family of four. Families earning more than 350% of the federal poverty level can purchase coverage for dependent children at the rate the State pays under regulations adopted by the Department last December.
The bill was unanimously approved by both the Senate and Assembly in June.