Governor, Vitale Announce Universal Health Insurance For All Children

WOODBRIDGE – At a news conference at Woodbridge Center Mall today with Governor Jon Corzine and Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez, Senator Joseph F. Vitale, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and author of New Jersey’s FamilyCare program, announced a new option for families still struggling to find affordable health care for their children.

Under the new proposal, families whose income level makes them ineligible for NJ FamilyCare will now be able to purchase health insurance for their kids through NJ FamilyCare at the same rate that it costs the State.

“NJ FamilyCare is a program designed to allow working families access to health coverage for their kids at a price they can afford,” said Senator Vitale, D-Woodbridge. “Extending the savings that the State can command to all working families in NJ just makes sense. I”m happy to be here to announce that New Jersey has made affordable health care coverage a reality for every single kid in our State.”

NJ FamilyCare is a state program that offers free or low-cost health care coverage for uninsured working families. The program, created in 1998 is funded by a mix of Federal and State dollars. Senator Vitale, who authored the legislation establishing FamilyCare, has made health care coverage for kids and families a priority, working on initiatives to simplify the application process and expand eligibility; including the law that provided the impetus for the program announced today.

Senator Vitale’s Family Health Care Expansion Act (S-2236) was signed into law in July of 2005. One of the key elements allows families with incomes above 350% of the Federal poverty level (approximately $72,000 for a family of four under current Federal guidelines) to purchase NJ FamilyCare health coverage for their kids at no cost to the State and at a price that can’t be matched in the private market.

“Even families that are solidly in New Jersey’s middle class struggle to afford health coverage,” said Senator Vitale. “They can’t buy dependent-only coverage – in order to provide health care for their kids, they have to cover one of the adults in the family, and the cost to do that simply puts health insurance out of their reach. I wanted to give these families the opportunity to purchase affordable health coverage for their kids. By letting them pay the same rate the State pays for NJ FamilyCare, they can actually buy their kids health insurance and it doesn’t cost taxpayers anything.”

Senator Vitale noted that the news conference, held in a busy mall during the last rush of the holiday shopping season, was intended to maximize the public’s exposure to the new program while sending a message about the importance of health care.

“Obviously, we want to let the most parents possible know that every single kid in New Jersey can now get health coverage through NJ FamilyCare. What better place to tell them than in a crowded mall days before Christmas? I can’t think of a gift a parent wants to give their kid more than good health and I’m glad to be able to help them make that happen,” said Senator Vitale. “It’s a notable day when we can stand here next to the Governor and say that no kid in New Jersey has to go without routine health care any longer.”