Christie rapped over plan to cut health insurance program

    Advocacy groups are criticizing Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to reduce the number of low-income parents eligible for New Jersey’s Family Care program.

    As part of a proposal to save $300 million by overhauling Medicaid, the administration is seeking federal approval to set a lower income level to qualify for the popular health insurance program.

    Mary Coogan, assistant director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, said reducing parent enrollment will hurt children.

    “Parents who don’t have health insurance use the emergency rooms, and they receive treatment as a family. So they will take their children to the emergency rooms as well,” Coogan said. “Not only is this ineffective, it will also be costly.”

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    Sen. Joe Vitale, who helped get the Family Care program started in New Jersey, said taking away health care for tens of thousands of people is morally wrong.

    “For the governor to turn his back on tens of thousands of hard-working New Jersey parents and make the costs for insuring kids even greater is outrageously wrong, and I can’t find the adjectives to describe just how angry I am and disappointed in the governor for doing this,” Vitale said. “This comes down to the well-being of individuals on a fundamental human rights basis, and it’s wrong.”

    Crystal Snedden, the health-care campaign coordinator for New Jersey Citizen Action, is urging state lawmakers not to pass a budget that includes those reductions.

    “New Jersey’s low and moderate income families are already struggling with a persistent bad economy and from program cuts that were made last year,” Snedden said. “It’s bad policy. It hurts our economy, and it hurts our vulnerable families at a time when they can least afford it.”

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