Menendez, DOBI Commish Caride Urge NJans to Sign Up for Health Care Coverage before ACA Deadline

Menendez, DOBI Commish Caride Urge NJans to Sign Up for Health Care Coverage before ACA Deadline

Trump Admin cut enrollment period to 6 weeks – Sunday, Dec. 15 deadline fast approaching Go to GetCovered.NJ.gov or call toll-free consumer hotline at 1-800-446-7467 to enroll in health care coverage

 

PATERSON, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy and a co-author of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), today joined New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) Commissioner Marlene Caride to encourage New Jerseyans to sign up for health care coverage before the Dec. 15 deadline to enroll.  They visited St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, one of 44 designated organizations across the state assisting residents seeking coverage.

The ACA includes protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, requires coverage for maternal and mental health services, expands access and funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and allows children to be covered under their parents’ insurance until 26.  Since the law went into effect, nearly a million more New Jerseyans have coverage today who did not before. 

“The ACA enrollment period is underway, but the deadline is just days away and fast approaching.  If you do not have health insurance—it’s time to get it.  If you have insurance, but your healthcare needs have changed, now’s the time to select a new plan that works for you.  If you have family, friends, or neighbors you know who do not have health insurance, you need to remind them to get covered. said Sen. Menendez.  “Getting covered is not just about protecting the health and well-being of you and your loved ones, but ensuring you’re not one illness or one injury away from financial ruin.”

New Jerseyans are urged to go to GetCovered.NJ.gov or call the toll-free consumer hotline at 1-800-446-7467 to enroll in health care coverage.

“There is a little more than a week left of the open enrollment period and I urge all New Jerseyans who still have not signed up for health coverage to visit GetCovered.NJ.gov to find the health plan that best suits their needs and budget,” said Governor Phil Murphy.  “We have made significant efforts to ease the enrollment process and ensure residents have the support they need to get covered.  We are unfortunately confined to a six-week enrollment period, which comes to an end on December 15.  Let’s make this last week count.”

While the state’s uninsured rate has dropped to 7.4%, the uninsured rate in New Jersey’s nonelderly Hispanic community remains highest at 18%, according to 2018 Census data.  Paterson’s population is 60% Hispanic.  

“The open enrollment deadline is fast approaching.  If you do not have health insurance or want to change your current health plan, this is the time to do it.  It is important that residents remember that New Jersey law requires they have health insurance otherwise they will have to pay a penalty at tax time.  There is financial assistance available and most residents who purchased coverage on the Marketplace last year received financial help to lower the cost of their plan.  We have worked to simplify the enrollment process and have a Plan Comparison tool on the Get Covered New Jersey website that residents can use to compare plans and rates.  For residents who might need additional support, we have community organizations in every county ready to provide free enrollment assistance.  Having health insurance ensures you have the right protections in place when you need them the most.  I am asking everyone who has not started shopping for a health plan yet to go to GetCovered.NJ.gov and get covered before the December 15 deadline,”said Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride.

This year, New Jersey has increased enrollment assistance services thanks to Governor Murphy’s initiatives to increase the state’s role in increasing health insurance coverage in New Jersey. As part of those initiatives, DOBI announced $1.1 in grants to five organizations to serve as health insurance navigators and provide enrollment assistance to New Jerseyans shopping for health insurance during open enrollment.  The department also introduced a new health plan comparison tool that allows residents to easily compare health plans on and off the Exchange, to see their monthly costs, and to determine if they qualify for financial assistance.  Last year, nearly 80% of residents who shopped for a health plan on the Marketplace received financial assistance to lower the cost of their plan.

At the same time, the Trump Administration has worked systematically to undermine the ACA, slashing 90% of funding for ACA enrollment efforts and cutting the enrollment period from three months to six weeks to ensure less people get covered.  Through the 2019 coverage year, there are 40,000 fewer New Jerseyans with health insurance under the ACA since President Obama left office, a 13.5% drop, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data.  Current enrollment in New Jersey is down 26.3% percent since the Trump Administration took over, with 76,711 signed up through Nov. 30, 2019 compared to 104,142 at this point in 2017.  Historically, enrollment spikes in the final days before the deadline. 

“Since the very beginning of this critical legislation, we recognized that healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act is essential to our communities and to the viability of hospitals and healthcare providers,” said Kevin J. Slavin, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health. “At St. Joseph’s, we have a dedicated team in place to simplify enrollment for individuals and families, helping New Jersey to achieve a record-high rate of insured residents under the ACA.” 

The senator and commissioner warned residents of so-called “skimpy” health plans with limited coverage, now allowed by the Trump Administration, despite failing to provide essential health benefits required by the ACA.  Such plans are prohibited in New Jersey.  

They also reminded New Jerseyans that the state requires everyone to have health insurance, despite President Trump and congressional Republicans eliminating the so-called individual mandate in order to further undermine the fiscal stability of the ACA and lead to millions of Americans losing their coverage.

As one of the authors of the ACA, Sen. Menendez has long championed its key provisions and led efforts to make health care more affordable and easier to get.

Earlier this year, Sens. Menendez and Cory Booker urged the Trump Administration to fully restore funding for the Navigator program to help American families get the information and support they need to find a quality health care plan at a price they can afford.  They also introduced the Expand Navigators’ Resources for Outreach, Learning, and Longevity (ENROLL) Act, which passed the House of Representatives and has since been buried in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) “legislative graveyard.”  

In May, Sen. Menendez introduced the State Allowance for a Variety of Exchanges (SAVE) Act to provide $200 million in competitive federal grant funding to support states, like New Jersey, establish their own state-based health exchanges. Moving from the Trump-run federal marketplace system would give states flexibility to expand coverage options, increase enrollment, and lower health costs for consumers.

 

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