NJBIZ

Advocacy Groups Push For Immigrant Health Care Funding

NJBIZ —Tuesday, June 9, 2009

By Shankar P.

Nonprofit advocacy groups New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Policy Perspective and the Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey today called on state policymakers to restore $1 million for outreach and enrollment funding for its NJ FamilyCare program in its budget for the fiscal year 2010.

They based their demand on the findings of a report, "State Practices in Health Coverage for Immigrants: A Report for New Jersey," prepared by Marsha Rosenthal, assistant research professor at the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy. The report identifies policies for providing coverage to immigrants, and describes state policies towards health care for immigrants in New Jersey and other "high-immigrant states."

Ev Liebman, director of organizing and advocacy for NJ Citizen Action, in Camden; Ray Castro, senior policy analyst for NJ Policy Perspective, in Trenton; and Daniel Santo Pietro, executive director of the Hispanic Directors Association, in New Brunswick, recommended the state implement "more effective outreach and enrollment strategies."

The data in the Rutgers study suggests that "a targeted campaign to enroll the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable children is needed, and it will have to include community-based enrollment assistance to be successful," according to Santo Pietro.

They pointed to what they called "successful practices" in New York and Massachusetts, which stressed "more partnerships with local and community-based organizations and more investment of meaningful financial resources."

"Last year, the New Jersey Legislature passed, and Governor (Jon S.) Corzine signed, S-1557, requiring that all New Jersey children have health insurance as of July 2009," Liebman said. "With the passage of this law, New Jersey has a responsibility to make sure all children in the state have access to quality, affordable health care."

Eve Weissman, the Highland Park-based health care campaign coordinator for New Jersey Citizen Action, said last year, the state for the first time in several years provided $1 million in outreach. "We are concerned that the new state budget is not putting money into outreach and enrollment," she said. She added that to reach the state's declared goal of providing health insurance for all children by July 2009, "it is critical that we provide this allocation."

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