New Jersey Concerns About Proposed Medicaid Copayments

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New JerseyHuman Services Commissioner Jenner Velez on Monday said that proposed Medicaidcopayments for prescription drugs and some hospital visits raise a "validconcern" that low-income, uninsured residents would forgo medical care,the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in his $33billion fiscal year 2009 budget plan has proposed a $6 copay for emergencydepartment visits that are not a true emergency to generate $550,000, as wellas a $2 copay on prescription drugs to generate $7 million. The drug copaywould be capped at $10 per month per beneficiary. New Jersey is among eight states that do notrequire Medicaid beneficiaries to contribute drug copays, the AP/Inquirerreports (Hester, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/29). The ED copaywill be capped at $12 monthly, according to Velez.

Members of the New Jersey Senate Budget Committee during a meeting on Mondayasked the state to explain proposed changes. Opponents of the copays, includingsome lawmakers and an advocacy group, testified that the proposal would causesome beneficiaries who cannot afford the fees to forgo care. Velez said,"I do think it's a valid concern; I couldn't tell you that it's not"(Reitmeyer, Bergen Record,4/28).

Meanwhile, Corzine on Tuesday planned to meet with the New Jersey Hospital Association to discuss a proposed 14% cut in funding forhospitals. The association argues that the funding cuts could result in 26hospitals losing all state funding and could reduce funding for 37 additionalhospitals. Overall, Corzine has proposed $2.7 billion in budget cuts for FY2009 (AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 4/29).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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