Enrolling hard-to-reach kids in NJ FamilyCare

    A NJ advocacy group says the state needs to devote more money to enrolling immigrants in the state’s health insurance program.

    Last year New Jersey lawmakers set aside $1 million to recruit and enroll families not likely to apply for the state’s health insurance program, called FamilyCare. But that funding didn’t make it into Governor Corzine’s budget plan for the year that starts July 1st. (Photo courtesy New Jersey State Gov.)

    A Department of Human Services spokeswoman says the funding was designed as a one-time allocation. But a statewide advocacy groups says New Jersey is backing away from its commitment to sign up hard-to-reach children, including kids from immigrant families.

    Castro: For this population you really have to have face-to-face contact with organizations that these people trust. We are just starting to do that in New Jersey.

    Ray Castro is a policy analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspective. He says Illinois pays community-based organizations to work with individual families and help them complete the necessary paperwork.

    The DHS spokeswoman says NJ FamilyCare will launch an advertising campaign this summer to reach more people, using a portion of the July 2008 allocation.

    A Rutgers University study found that other states with large immigrant populations have broader outreach programs than New Jersey. The study was commissioned by a New Jersey coalition working to expand health insurance coverage.

    Castro says Illinois pays community-based organizations as much as $50 per completed application.

    Castro: This is not an easy thing to do, I mean, to sit down with the person, to fill out an application to get their support documents, and send it over the internet, and then double check and so on. It takes a lot of time.

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