TRENTON – Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Wayne R. Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester, released the following statement today regarding the need for an in-depth review of the State’s Medicaid program during a Senate Budget and Appropriations panel hearing with State Medicaid Director Ann Kohler and State Auditor Richard Fair on ways to maximize Medicaid dollars:
” Within the billions of dollars appropriated for Medicaid, there must be ways for the State to save money. During the hearing I requested that the State Auditor work with the Departments of Health and Senior Services and Human Services, and by March 14 create a uniformed Statewide Integrity Review Unit to help maximize the amount of funding the Federal government appropriates for Medicaid so that we can save State dollars. New Jersey’s Federal reimbursement rate for Medicaid is only 50%, which is low compared to states like Mississippi who receive an 80% reimbursement rate from the Government. I want the Integrity Review unit to identify areas where we can gain more Federal dollars and get the most out of the State dollars we spend for Medicaid.
“In New Jersey, one out of every seven dollars from the State budget is dedicated to Medicaid funding. Out of the appropriated funding $3.5 billion goes toward mandatory funding and another $3.5 billion goes toward ‘optional services.’ These optional services include services like free clinics, the cost of artificial limbs and prescription drug coverage. Medicaid describes these services as ‘optional,’ but clearly they are necessary. I don’t think that providing people with the medicines and medical care they need is at all ‘optional.’ Cutting these programs would balance the budget, but at what cost? As a state we must remain committed to providing our residents with the best possible medical care.”