All NJ Children Should Have Health Insurance
As part of Minority and Multicultural Health Month, Governor Jon S. Corzine held a teleconference call with leaders of community groups, health centers and faith-based groups that serve minority and multicultural populations to discuss efforts to enroll more children in NJ FamilyCare and to reduce health disparities.
“Access to routine and preventive health care is essential to the health of New Jersey’s minority populations. As a result of our efforts over the past two years, we have increased the number of insured in New Jersey, but we must redouble our efforts to ensure that teachers, parents, faith-based leaders and child care centers know about NJ FamilyCare,” Governor Corzine said.
Governor Corzine thanked the community leaders and health center administrators for the work they do on the front lines every day to reduce health disparities, improve cultural competency, sponsor health screenings and promote preventive care. The Governor urged the community leaders to step up efforts to enroll more low-and moderate-income children in NJ FamilyCare.
The Department of Human Services and the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health have collaborated to provide funding for seven community-based agencies to participate in the outreach and recruitment initiative of NJ FamilyCare.
“The Department of Human Services has seen first-hand the success of both outreach and in-reach efforts to raise awareness about NJ FamilyCare, the state and federally subsidized health insurance program,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “Currently, the program covers nearly 600,000 children and 250,000 parents. This achievement is a direct result of the partnerships forged among multiple state agencies, faith-based organizations, hospitals, schools, local advocacy agencies and social service groups. We’re delighted with the response and remain committed to enrolling every eligible child.”
Just yesterday, Governor Corzine announced that the number of New Jerseyans without health insurance has decreased by more than 11%, or 147,000 individuals, the second largest reduction in the nation between 2007 and 2008. At the same time, the number of uninsured in the U.S. rose by 1.5 percent, according to a U.S. Census report on the income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the United State s in 2008.
The Governor credited aggressive initiatives aimed at enrolling those without health insurance for the declining New Jersey rate. He also credited the decrease to the landmark New Jersey Health Care Reform Act of 2008 that he signed into law last July which expanded health insurance eligibility and provided more access to affordable health insurance for all children
In addition, the Governor recently announced a sweeping agreement with health insurers to cover H1N1 vaccinations as well as free H1N1 vaccinations for uninsured New Jerseyans at public health clinics in every county throughout the State.
Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard encouraged all New Jersey residents to take control of their health—this month and always—and take advantage of the many health fairs, screenings, workshops and seminars that are being held throughout September.
Each September, the Department of Health and Senior Services’ Office of Minority and Multicultural Health promotes Minority and Multicultural Health Month to raise awareness of minority health issues and highlight the efforts of community and faith-based organizations, hospitals and other institutions. This year’s theme is “Take Control of Your Health” with more than 80 events focused on teaching people the tools they need to prevent and better manage chronic disease.
“Minority communities are disproportionately impacted by asthma, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other chronic diseases,” Commissioner Howard said. “Managing chronic conditions is difficult, but small changes in lifestyle—eating right, taking a walk, reducing stress and getting regular checkups—can really make a difference in improving people’s health.”
The Corzine administration has invested aggressively in the health care safety net by preserving funding for safety net hospitals and supporting community health centers that provide heath care to New Jersey’s medically underserved residents.
Access to health care has improved because of the investment of tens of millions in direct patient care at community health centers and expansion dollars that allowed health centers to extend hours and open more sites, serving additional patients. Due to state support, New Jersey’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) have almost doubled the number of sites they have throughout New Jersey to ensure patients receive high quality, preventive care.
At the Governor’s direction, the Department of Health and Senior Services also convened a Prenatal Care Task Force to improve access to prenatal care, ensuring a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. The Prenatal Care Task Force recommended strategies to reduce disparities in birth outcomes, promote preconception care and family planning services among women before they get pregnant, and to improve early entry into prenatal care.
The Department has also joined with nearly 100 businesses, nutrition groups and other community groups to combat obesity. The state was recently awarded a three-year, $4.1 million grant to develop a statewide plan to promote healthy lifestyles.
“We know there is more work to be done, which is what today’s discussion is all about -- to identify what our logical next steps should be to eliminate any and all issues of health disparity, and assure equal access to quality health care for every New Jersey resident,” Governor Corzine added.