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Vitale-Buono Familycare Reform Bill Advances

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Barbara Buono which would reform New Jersey’s FamilyCare health insurance system to cover uninsured children and working poor adults was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.

“New Jersey has a moral obligation to provide for our least fortunate citizens, and the FamilyCare insurance program was designed to address that need,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Unfortunately, there remains more than 200,000 children in this State who are uninsured, despite qualifying for FamilyCare health insurance coverage. We need a higher standard and a better success rate if we’re ever going to see FamilyCare live up to its promise of universal health care coverage for all working class residents in New Jersey.”

“Every family should have the opportunity to receive quality health care for their children, regardless of their financial situation,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Children who have access to preventive care services lead healthier lives, which in turn means they do better in school and have better health as an adult. This is truly an investment in our future.”

The bill, S-2236, would repeal the current New Jersey KidCare and FamilyCare programs, and would consolidate both programs into a revamped New Jersey FamilyCare system. The bill would provide for an expansion of New Jersey FamilyCare and Medicaid eligibility for parents and adults without dependent children, make New Jersey eligible for greater matching funds from the federal government for health care coverage for the uninsured, and reform the process to streamline and simplify, allowing for easier enrollment of families into the FamilyCare program.

“The lack of routine health care access for so many New Jerseyans is simply staggering, and our State cannot sustain the current system where many uninsured children and adults will forego care until they have to be hospitalized,” said Senator Vitale. “We need to put greater emphasis on continued preventive medicine rather than episodic care, and the establishment of healthy life practices rather than New Jerseyans living from hospital visit to hospital visit. It’s time we meet our humanitarian obligation and promote a successful, all-inclusive FamilyCare program to serve the State of New Jersey.”

The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration before going to the full Senate for approval. If approved there, it would go to the Assembly for consideration.

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