In order to build the necessary foundation to thrive and become healthy, productive adults, children and youth need to have access to physical, social and emotional supports. Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) has long acknowledged the need for all children to have affordable health care coverage to help make this happen.
Through a public-private partnership, uninsured children have been enrolled in NJ FamilyCare, our state’s public health insurance program funded with federal and state dollars. Through these efforts, there has been a steady decline in the number of uninsured children. Recently, Governor Murphy signed the Cover All Kids bill, which had nearly unanimous, bipartisan support. Once fully enacted, this bill will remove the final barriers to cover all kids.
During Phase 1 of the bill passage, the 90-day waiting period for coverage to children will be eliminated. Premiums for income-eligible families, which have not been required since the COVID-19 shutdown as a result of the federal American Rescue Plan, will be eliminated as well. The bill also provides funding for targeted outreach to children who are currently eligible for coverage, but not enrolled. Nearly 53,000 children will benefit from these efforts alone. The FY2022 budget includes $20 million towards this phase of the two-year campaign.
Phase 2 of the Cover All Kids Campaign includes providing coverage options for children of undocumented status and those whose families’ incomes exceed NJ FamilyCare eligibility but still find coverage to be unaffordable. Currently, NJ FamilyCare covers children in families with incomes up to 355 percent of the federal poverty level ($7,840/month for a family of four).
At the end of the Cover All Kids Campaign, the Murphy Administration predicts that nearly 90,000 children will have access to medical coverage.
When children have health coverage, their parents also gain the peace of mind of knowing that minor problems are less likely to become serious conditions. That’s because children with health coverage are more likely to have “medical homes” where they receive regular, ongoing treatment for chronic conditions, such as asthma.
New Jersey and the federal government are offering more assistance to help lower the cost of health insurance. Families without health insurance should visit www.njfamilycare.org to check if they are eligible for coverage. NJ FamilyCare also provides coverage for very low-income parents and single adults. Those not qualifying can learn about other options at www.GetCovered.NJ.gov.