Thursday, March 23, 2006

NJ Budget - Expanding Health Insurance for Children

In his campaign health care plan, Jon Corzine claimed he would expand health insurance availability to 265,000 uninsured children. Back in June 2005, I questioned that plan. The latest data available at the time (from June 2004) showed 229,743 people enrolled in the plan.

A few census facts are in order here. There are estimated to be 8,414,350 people living in New Jersey, of whom 24% (2,087,558) are aged 18 and under. There are 669,668 individuals below the poverty level, or 8.3% of the population.

If the proportion of children among those in poverty is the same as that of the general population, then there are about 161,000 children in poverty. This ties pretty closely with the census estimate of 135,549 families below the poverty level.

The latest Family Care data, from Feb 2006, indicate that 508,671 children and 141,516 adults are now enrolled. Family Care has added 278,928 kids and 141,516 adults due to the enactment of the "Family Health Care Coverage Act," boosting its penetration to 25% of the total market for children's health insurance.

Why should we spend $5 million of additional state funds? Give the existing legislation, only in effect for the past six months, time to work. We do not need "aggressive interdepartmental collaborative efforts to maximize existing enrollment opportunities," nor do we need "targeted marketing and outreach" to recruit an additional 50,000 children, especially when those children are likely to come from the upper end of the allowed 350% of the poverty level. Our state plan currently provides insurance for more than 3 times the estimated number of children living in poverty.

Leave well enough alone, Governor Corzine. Government should not be a growth industry.

Tags: New Jersey, Taxes, Health Care, Corzine, Budget