UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE'S COST THE QUESTION
March 21, 2008
State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), wants to make New Jersey only the second state in the nation to require all of its residents have health-care coverage. Unfortunately, the drive to make health insurance accessible to every man, woman and child is certain to be an expensive endeavor, one that New Jersey is hard-pressed to afford, especially in these highly volatile economic times, says the Home News Tribune.
Specifically, Vitale wants to usher New Jersey toward universal health care in three stages starting by expanding FamilyCare, the state-funded health care plan for low-income families:
- To do that, he would increase income eligibility limits to include families with household incomes at twice the federal poverty level.
- All told, roughly 275,000 uninsured children and adults would then qualify for FamilyCare.
- The 19th District lawmaker estimates this move would increase state costs by $29 million a year.
The fear of course is that even a modest expansion of FamilyCare would stretch state finances beyond their limits, if that breaking point hasn't already been reached; Trenton lawmakers face a coming state budget that is billions of dollars in the hole, notes the Tribune:
- New Jersey already spends more than $120 million a year to provide health insurance to the more than 125,000 children and 87,000 parents who are enrolled in the program.
- The state has been pushing for years to sign up all of those who are eligible for FamilyCare but haven't enrolled.
- It is only natural to want to maximize that effort, but growing the program's income eligibility caps beyond current limits could greatly inflate costs by adding nearly 100,000 adults and children in the program's first year.
Source: Editorial, "Universal Health Care's Cost The Question," Home News Tribune, March 20, 2008.
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