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AARP Sends Letter to State Legislature: Balance the Budget Responsibly

AARP New Jersey recently sent the NJ State legislature letter specifying AARP’s position on two important issues: FamilyCare and Medicaid co-pays.

AARP is deeply concerned about the proposed Medicaid co-pays and the freeze on adult enrollment in NJ FamilyCare present in the FY 2010 budget.

People living in poverty in New Jersey are already struggling due to the state’s substantially higher cost of living, exacerbated by the recent downturn in the economy.  Imposing Medicaid co-pays on top of these increases will unfairly burden New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents, and may force them to have to choose between food, gas, utilities and healthcare.  This is a choice that nobody should ever be forced to make. When consumers forego health services, expensive consequences result.  Increased use of emergency rooms and avoidable hospitalizations will be billed to Medicaid.  Any potential cost savings realized by implementing co-pays will be lost to these added expenses.  Medicaid co-pays must be removed from the FY 2010 budget.

Due to record unemployment many New Jerseyans have lost not only their jobs, but health care coverage for their families as well.  In December 2008 and January 2009, it is estimated that 650 New Jersey residents a day lost their health coverage.  Reducing costs are a priority, but we do not believe that a freeze on adult enrollment in FamilyCare is the answer.  The NJ Department of Human Services (DHS) estimates that this proposal will save $9 million in state funds, but it will be at a cost of almost twice that in federal matching funds ($17 million).  More importantly, an estimated 17,000 parents would be denied FamilyCare in the first year alone.  Proposals to cut NJ FamilyCare (NJFC), freezing enrollment of parents between 150%-200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), must be removed from the FY10 Budget.

You can help! Contact your legislators and urge them to oppose these proposals to the FY 2010 budget.  The State needs to protect our most vulnerable residents from the financial burden of increased health care costs and preserving access to quality, affordable health care for New Jersey’s families.

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