New Jersey Will Receive At Least $2.2 Billion In Medicaid Aid From Stimulus Package

New Jersey will receive an additional $2.2 billion for its Medicaid program under the stimulus package emerging from Congress, providing a financial boost to a safety-net program that officials say will face more demands as the recession continues. With the economy battering state revenues, N.J. Health Commissioner Heather Howard welcomed support for Medicaid.

“It’s critical aid coming in right now from the federal government because our health-care system is under stress like never before,” Howard said.

The office of Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) said the state could expect the extra $2.2 billion in federal Medicaid support under the House-Senate compromise. The money, which would be added to the Medicaid support already allocated to New Jersey, would come over two years.

New Jersey already spends roughly $5 billion, about $1 of every $6 in its budget, on Medicaid, Howard said. The program covers about 1.1 million people, according to the Department of Human Services. The number is likely to grow. For every 1 percent increase in unemployment, 1.1 million people lose health insurance and one million qualify for Medicaid, Howard said. New Jersey’s unemployment rate hit a 15-year high at the end of December, but the state has less money to cope with the growing demands, she said.

Governor John Corzine, who in January outlined $800 million in budget cuts, said state revenues were continuing to fall so fast that in the coming weeks he would probably have to go back for another round of reductions, so the additional money was coming at a very good time.

Source: The Local & Region Section of the February 13th Edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer