MEDIA ADVISORY – Senate Health Committee To Discuss Impact Of Medicaid Waiver On Monday

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Invited Stakeholders Will Address Access to Care Concerns Under Governor’s Proposed Rule-Change for Medicaid, FamilyCare

TRENTON – On Monday, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will meet to conduct a roundtable discussion with invited stakeholders on the impact of the Governor’s proposed Medicaid Comprehensive Waiver, which will dramatically change eligibility criteria for New Jersey’s health care safety net programs, Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare.

“Governor Christie continues to talk about shared sacrifice, but time and time again, the people who are sacrificing the most in his proposed budget are those who can afford it the least,” said Committee Chairwoman Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen. “Under the proposed Medicaid income eligibility, thousands of New Jerseyans struggling to meet the high cost of living in the Garden State would be prohibited from applying for subsidized health care. We cannot and should not turn a blind eye to the plight of the working poor who would be put in jeopardy under these new rules.”

“The statement that the administration’s proposed Medicaid rule change makes is that in Chris Christie’s ‘new normal,’ the working poor and people in need of the health care safety net are not welcome,” said Committee Vice Chairman Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex. “This issue speaks to the very heart and soul of New Jersey’s priorities – either we’re going to provide access to health care for those who can’t afford it on their own, or we’re going to put people at risk of increased health problems, higher systemwide health care costs in our emergency rooms, reduced quality of life, and ultimately, shorter life expectancy because of their lack of access to care. We need to recognize the impact of the Governor’s proposed cuts to the health care safety net, and ensure people have access to affordable, appropriate health care in the Garden State.”

Under the Governor’s proposed new income rules, laid out in a waiver request which will be sent to the federal government, adults with an annual income as low as 25% of the Federal Poverty Level would no longer be eligible for subsidized health care through Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare. In real-world terms, that means that a parent in a family of three, who earns more than $5,316 per year (approximately $103 a week) would no longer be eligible for these programs under the Governor’s Medicaid Waiver proposal.

While the proposal would not affect parents already enrolled in the program, the waiver proposal would also include stricter income guidelines for those currently enrolled, so that once a parent earns more than the current income threshold of 133 percent of the federal poverty level – or $24,645 a year for a family of three – they would be immediately dropped from coverage, without the two-year transitional support currently offered. The 1,400 childless adults who are currently enrolled in FamilyCare and earn incomes at 100 percent of the federal poverty level – or $10,890 a year – would be immediately dropped from coverage.

The State estimates that the Governor’s waiver proposal would prevent 23,000 low-income people from taking part in the health care safety net in the coming fiscal year.

The Senate Health Committee hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM in Committee Room 1 of the Statehouse Annex on Monday, June 6.