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Senator Nia Gill (D-Essex/Passaic) listening to public testimony at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TRENTON – Senator Nia H. Gill (D-Essex, Passaic) issued the following statement today on the Christie Administration’s failure to comply with rules governing the permitted use of a $7.6 million federal grant for the health exchange awarded to the state in 2012 and scheduled to expire today. The Department of Banking and Insurance released a letter today sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlining its requests to the federal government to use the funding for various programs:

 “The administration’s refusal to comply with the federal rules governing the usage of the $7.6 million grant has once again placed the state at risk of losing millions of dollars in vitally-needed funding.  While the programs the administration sought funding for are worthy, they do not comply with federal guidelines that even the administration acknowledges allow the state to ‘perform consumer outreach and education.’

 “The correspondence released by the administration indicates that state officials have asked repeatedly to fund a specific program and were repeatedly informed their request did not meet the guidelines. Moreover, this is the first we are hearing of the administration’s attempt to utilize funding to meet specific state needs, despite the commissioner having been given the opportunity to present this information at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in December where the grant was discussed.

 “I am more than willing to work with state officials in order to help secure additional federal funding for these programs. However, an appropriate use of this specific grant is to conduct outreach to residents who are eligible for health coverage and have not yet enrolled.

 “Just last week, federal officials confirmed that the funding could be used for marketing the health exchange, which would ensure the maximum number of New Jerseyans receive coverage.

 “The administration must stop playing politics with our health care and work with federal officials to use the funding for permitted purposes. Our state has hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents who are eligible for insurance coverage and Medicaid benefits. Losing this money because the administration refuses to play by the rules cannot be an option.”