N.J. gets U.S. boost on Medicaid

Posted: April 15, 2011

TRENTON - The federal government has agreed to pay for half of New Jersey's Medicaid program for low-income, childless adults through 2013, saving the state more than $300 million.

The 50 percent matching grant, announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is effective immediately and runs through the end of 2013.

Medicaid is funded with state and federal dollars. Under health-care reform, the program will expand to allow for coverage of more adults starting in 2014 and will be fully funded by the federal government for the first few years.

New Jersey is one of a few states that already offers Medicaid to adults who earn up to a quarter of the federal poverty level - about $140 a month.

The federal grant "provides a significant amount of money at a time when the state faces serious budget problems," said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), who was celebrating the news. "This is one more benefit related to the Affordable Care Act that helps people with medical care and helps states with financial resources to meet those needs."

About 57,000 adults are enrolled in the program in New Jersey.

An additional 10,000 are thought to be eligible.

"This demonstration is yet another example of the many flexibilities states have to adapt their Medicaid programs to better serve their residents," said Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "I want to commend New Jersey for expanding coverage to people in need."

Gov. Christie's 2012 proposal relies on $88 million in savings from the matching grant this year.

Jennifer Velez, the state's Human Services Commissioner, said the grant marked the first of many steps in redesigning the Medicaid program.

The administration also anticipates $300 million in savings from a global Medicaid waiver it is seeking.

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