567,000 Low-Income and Disabled Insured by Medicaid Due to Affordable Care Act
On August 29, 2016, NJ Advance Media for NJ.Com reported that Governor Chris Christie “boasted” that after Medicaid expansion in New Jersey, 566,000 more New Jerseyans now have health insurance.
Governor Christie was one of only a few Republican governors to expand Medicaid through President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“There were many naysayers,” Christie said during a Statehouse news conference.
“We made a deal with the federal government. If they keep their deal, we’ll keep our part of the deal,” he said. “I am for Medicaid expansion … but I am not for Medicaid expansion at any price.”
New Jersey will pay an increasing share of the cost of Medicaid expansion over the next 4 years. Until the end of 2017, the federal government pays 100% of the cost and then in 2017, the state picks up 5% of the cost and by 2020 will pay 10% of the bill.
“It’s still a heck of a bargain,” said Sen. Joseph Vitale(D-Middlesex), chairman of the Senate health committee whom Christie invited to the press conference. “People complain we don’t get enough money from Washington, well, this is our money.”
Governor Christie has made reducing the high public cost of “super-utilizers” of emergency rooms a priority. “In his state budget address that year, Christie took aim at what the medical professionals call ‘super-utilizers’: the people with chronic health conditions who frequently end up in emergency rooms and get admitted to the hospital.”
To date, the expanded Medicaid program has the saved the state money.
“The state has cut $150 million in the pool of ‘charity care’ money it reimburses hospitals for treating uninsured people since the law took effect in 2014.
Raymond Castro of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal-leaning research organization, said the state has saved $500 million a year by accepting the federal government’s money.
‘My only concern is that they should have used those savings to reinvest in further improving healthcare for New Jerseyans – rather than allocating most of them to the general treasury,’ Castro said.
‘Overall, I agree that the Medicaid expansion has been a remarkable success and the governor made the right decision to opt for the expansion,’ Castro added.”
NJ Family Cares, the state’s Medicaid program, insures 1.7 million low-income and disabled people. Almost 567,000 individuals enrolled in Medicaid under the Affordable Healthcare Act.