New Jersey expands Medicare coverage to all children, regardless of immigration status

16,000 more children can now get Medicare coverage regardless of their immigration status, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday at an event highlighting the state’s January 1 expansion of its Medicaid program.

The expansion is the latest phase of the “Cover All Kids” initiative, which aims to provide health care access to all New Jerseyans under the age of 19. The Department of Human Services, which oversees Medicaid, has budgeted $11 million to pay for the initiative.

“This is not the morally right thing to do, but it is the right thing to do for the future health of our state in all the forms that health takes,” Murphy said at a news conference in Morristown. Furthermore, an investment in regular and consistent health care coverage is an investment in peace of mind. ”

The initiative launched in July 2021. By the end of 2022, the Department of Human Services has enrolled more than 47,000 children, many of whom have access to health insurance for the first time, Murphy said.

To be eligible, families must earn less than 355% of the federal poverty level, which is $8,210 per month for a family of four.

state Medicaid application, NJ FamilyCare, NJ FamilyCare, will remain the same for newly eligible children, as will insurance coverage, said Sarah Adelman, commissioner of the NJ Department of Human Services, regardless of applicants’ immigration status.

People may also call 1-800-701-0710 to complete their application with the health benefits coordinator, or Look online for face-to-face help.

Murphy’s administration said that using the program would not be considered a public fee, so it would not affect a family’s chance of applying for a green card.

Adelman praised the state’s efforts to remove barriers to “getting and keeping coverage.” The state eliminated insurance premiums for children and eliminated a 90-day waiting period for coverage that left people defenseless while they wait.

Adelman also highlighted partnerships with the Treasury Department to use tax filing information to reach families with uninsured children, and with the Department of Education to identify uninsured students during enrollment.

About 3.5% of children are uninsured in New Jersey in 2021, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“How we take care of our children is a reflection of our values, and it’s a financially responsible decision because investing in children’s health, especially in primary care, pays off over their lifetime. It makes our families and communities healthier and stronger,” Adelman said.

Sen. Theresa Ruiz (D-Essex) on Wednesday spoke out about taking her daughter to the doctor for a sore throat.

“Then I put myself through the lens of a woman in my neighborhood who doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t have access to health care, and may not have $10 in her pocket for a co-pay. She ends up in the emergency room, and what does that do?” she said. “It’s not primarily about taking care of making our children healthy in the long run.”

Speaking in Spanish, Ruiz told Latinos without healthcare that it was time to apply and invest in their health.

Amy Torres, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition for Immigrant Justice, points out that families seeking to immigrate often must save money for expensive naturalization applications or DACA renewals. With the expansion of access to insurance, Torres said, health care costs are the least of immigrant families’ worries.

“Racial disparities still persist in New Jersey, and by providing coverage for our children in these first years of life, we are taking bold steps to begin to address those disparities,” Torres said.

Torres added that the work is far from over as future conservatives Must Ensure that the program continues to receive funding as immigrant communities grow.

Murphy has suggested that similar programs appear in his budget proposal, which he is due to unveil in early March.

“You can bet that this commitment to the health of every child in New Jersey will be written in black and white,” he said.

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