Advocates Call on State to Invest More in Community-Based Outreach and Enrollment for NJ FamilyCare and Restore Proposed $1 Million Budget Cut
NJ Health Care Consumer Advocates & Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy Release New Report on Health Care Coverage
Highland Park, NJ – The NJ for Health Care Campaign held a TelePress Conference to release a new report by the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy (CHSP) titled State Practices in Health Coverage for Immigrants: A Report for New Jersey (June 2009) ---
Based on key findings in the report Ev Liebman, Director of Organizing and Advocacy for NJ Citizen Action, Ray Castro, Senior Policy Analyst for NJ Policy Perspective, and Daniel Santo Pietro, Executive Director of the Hispanic Directors Association called on State policymakers to restore $1 million for outreach and enrollment funding for NJ FamilyCare in NJ’s Fiscal Year 2010 State Budget and recommend that NJ implement more effective outreach and enrollment strategies based on successful practices in states such as New York and Massachusetts including more partnerships with local and community-based organizations, more investment of meaningful financial resources, and the creation of user-friendly one-stop website.
On the call, the report’s author, Marsha Rosenthal, Assistant Research Professor for Rutgers Center for State Health Policy (CSHP) described the purpose and methodology of the report. The report provides background for a greater understanding of the current environment for health coverage of immigrants in NJ by: 1) identifying policies for providing coverage to immigrants, 2) describing policies in NJ, and 3) describing policies in other high immigrant states.
“It would be a tragedy for families if all outreach funds were eliminated at the same time the State is just starting to reach uninsured children who need health coverage the most,” said Castro.
“Last year, the NJ Legislature passed and Governor Corzine signed S-1557, requiring that all NJ children have health insurance as of July 2009,” explained Liebman. “With the passage of this law, NJ has a responsibility to make sure all children in the State have access to quality, affordable health care.”
Another important feature of this legislation is that for the first time in several years, it provided $1 million for outreach (which matches $1.8 million in federal funds). About $150,000 of these funds have been distributed to six community-based organizations to reach families that are not likely to apply for FamilyCare, such as immigrants, and another $150,000 has been dedicated for Technical Assistance Payments (TAP) for each successfully enrolled child. Additionally, $300,000 shall be used to help schools and food pantries enroll families. The balance of the outreach funds has been obligated for a media campaign.
“NJ offers a patchwork of access to coverage,” said Santo Pietro. “As the report shows, we do not offer the array of outreach and enrollment assistance that some other states do. This data suggests that a targeted campaign to enroll the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable children is needed and it will have to include community-based enrollment assistance to be successful. Such as approach should build on existing programs and include resources to assign outreach workers to go out into the community to make sure that parents understand the importance of enrolling their children in FamilyCare, how to use the coverage for preventive services, and help them as needed to complete the application.”
The report illustrates the need for effective outreach and enrollment strategies “such as streamlining enrollment forms and processes, making forms and information available in multiple languages, and engaging trusted community organizations” (5) in order to bolster access to and enrollment in public health insurance programs generally.
Successful outreach and enrollment strategies in four high immigrant states:
· California: State partnerships with local and community-based organizations, hospitals, schools, and religious organizations (14)
· Illinois: Application agents including community-based organizations, day care centers, local governments, unions, medical providers, school districts, and insurance agents receive $50 Technical Assistance Payment (TAP) for each successfully enrolled child (15)
· Massachusetts: One-stop website where residents and employers compare insurance programs and obtain coverage (private and public); FY09 budget allocates $3.5 million for grants to community and consumer-focused public and private non-profit organizations for outreach, enrollment, application assistance, and education (16)
· New York: Community based organizations serve as facilitators helping people apply and enroll (including weekends/evenings); families no longer required to show proof of income; Department of Health website clearly lists all available public health insurance epigrams and eligibility requirements; Access New York website allows residents to anonymously determine eligibility for over 30 public programs and/or apply for services (17)
NJ For Health Care is a broad-based alliance of health care, consumer, senior, student, disability, women's, labor, faith-based, civil rights and social justice organizations working to bring guaranteed, high quality, affordable health care to all New Jersey residents.
Contact: Eve Weissman, NJ Citizen Action, 908-705-1119 (m) or 732-246-4772 (o)
Ev Liebman, NJ Citizen Action, 609-234-2741 (m) or 856-966-3091 (o)