Menendez, Lautenberg Secure Major Victory For NJ Children As Health Insurance Bill Overwhelmingly Passes Senate

Menendez, Lautenberg Secure Major Victory For NJ Children As Health Insurance Bill Overwhelmingly Passes Senate

Includes vital provisions to keep NJ children and working families from being cast into the ranks of the uninsured

Washington - New Jersey Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) led a strong and successful effort to protect the health of New Jersey children that culminated in tonight's Senate passage of the Children's Health Insurance Program reauthorization bill by a seemingly veto-proof 68-31 vote. The legislation includes exemptions to continue strong federal support for New Jersey's FamilyCare program - exemptions that Menendez and Lautenberg defended repeatedly from amendments targeting New Jersey on the Senate floor (http://menendez.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=280291&).

"We have kept thousands of New Jersey children and families from being dropped into the ocean of the uninsured," said Menendez. "We knew there would be obstacles thrown in front of us during this debate, but we navigated them to reach our goal. Make no mistake, this is a major victory that protects the children of working and low-income families in our state. I am proud to have helped lead this effort.

The Senate CHIP bill includes protections for New Jersey's FamilyCare program, one of the nation's strongest such programs. It is estimated that without continuing federal support for the full scope of the program, 80,000 parents and 30,000 children in New Jersey might lose coverage. It is estimated that around 100,000 New Jersey will gain coverage under this plan, and the state will receive $373 million in FY08.

The legislation would maintain two key streams of federal support for New Jersey through:

an exemption to continue coverage for working and low-income parents in New Jersey, which in turn helps increase coverage of children, and enhanced federal funds to cover children whose families make up to 350% of the federal poverty level - working and low-income families who do not qualify for Medicaid but often cannot afford health insurance.

The overall legislation would authorize a total of $35 billion overall for five years. It is estimated that the bill will maintain coverage from 6.6 million recipients nationwide and add 3.2 million low-income, uninsured children to the program.

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