Federal Government to Expand FamilyCare By 100,000 In N.J.

5 02 2009

sick-dollWashinton D.C.-A massive expansion of the federal-state program that subsidizes health insurance for 130,000 children in New Jersey was approved by the House today and President Obama will sign it this afternoon.

New Jersey officials expect to be able to provide coverage for an additional 100,000 children with the increased funding the state would receive. The program’s costs are split, 65-35, between Washington and Trenton.

The $33 billion expansion will be funded by increasing the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents a pack, to $1.

Known in Washington as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, and marketed as FamilyCare in New Jersey, the program and is designed for families who earn too much for Medicaid but cannot afford to buy their own insurance.

FamilyCare covers children in low- and middle-income families and some low-income parents. New Jersey came under fire in Congress for having some of the most generous eligibility standards in the country.

Some members of Congress said federal assistance should be focused solely on children from the neediest families, and attempted to trim subsidies going to New Jersey because its plan allows children in a family of four making as much as $74,200 to get a subsidized HMO plan for $128 a month.

New Jersey officials argued the state’s high cost of living justified the high income thresholds. They also noted that traditionally New Jersey gets less back in federal funding from each dollar paid in taxes because of strict income-driven formulae, and states needed flexibility to serve their residents.

President Bush, citing generous benefits like New Jersey’s, vetoed to earlier attempts to expand the program in 2007.

(News Source: North Jersey.com)

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