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Catastrphic Illness In Children Relief Fund Commission
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FOR RELEASE Thursday, DECEMBER 14, 2006

Contact:  Ralph J. Condo

 (609) 292-0600

Catastrophic Illness In Children Relief Fund Grants Financial Awards For Families With Sick Children
TRENTON - At a State House ceremony today, Governor Jon S. Corzine announced the most recent financial grants awarded by the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund (CICRF) Commission.

"The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund provides New Jersey families with financial assistance for the uncovered medical bills related to their child's illness, allowing them to focus on the needs of their children without worrying about their ability to pay for necessary medical care."

“Now many New Jersey families can look forward to a holiday season with a brighter and more hopeful outlook thanks to this unique state fund which helps with a child’s uncovered medical bills,” according to Ralph Condo, executive director of CICRF.

The CICRF awards approved for the first six months of this fiscal year exceed $2.3 million and will help 109 eligible families pay uncovered expenses related to their child's illness. "We are helping ten percent more families this year than we did during the same period last year, amounting to almost $200,000 in additional financial relief," said Human Services Deputy Commissioner Jim Smith.  "We are proud that New Jersey can provide this safety net - unique in the United States - for so many families when they face catastrophic medical costs for their child."

Since the Fund's creation in 1989, it has awarded more than $100 million to over 4,100 New Jersey families, in every county of the state.

"By helping families maintain their family life while caring for a sick child and coping with mounting medical bills, the Fund does almost as much for the family's state of mind as it does for their finances," said Jane Lorber, chairperson of the Commission.

Families of any income may qualify, and the fund does not limit coverage to specific diseases or diagnoses.  Eligible medical and related expenses are those not fully covered by insurance, state, or federal programs, and include hospital and physician bills, medications, medical equipment, psychiatric care, home health care, and specialized home and vehicle modifications.

“We define catastrophic in terms of the economic impact the child’s illness has on the family.  We look at how high the uncovered medical expenses are compared with the family income,” said Condo.  “A family may have health insurance, but coverage is often inadequate, and mounting bills can quickly become catastrophic for a family.”  Most families that have been helped by the fund have been working parents with health insurance, but their out-of-pocket expenses were still greater than 10 percent of their income.  “The fund helps families weather a financial crisis and return to the routine responsibilities of their lives,” said Condo.

The fund is collected from an annual surcharge of $1 per employee levied on all employers who are subject to the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law. 

A family may qualify for the fund’s help if a child’s unreimbursed medical and related expenses exceed 10 percent of the family’s income up to $100,000 plus 15 percent of any excess income over $100,000.  The child must have been 21 years or younger when the medical expenses were incurred, and families must be state residents.  Expenses must have been incurred during a previous 12-month period, and expenses dating back to January 1988 will be considered.

While the legislation that created the fund protects the anonymity of families applying for help, several families who have received grant awards from the fund were willing to share their experience at today’s ceremony.

Families planning to attend on December 14, 2006:
Daniel and Laura Robertson of Cherry Hill, Camden County, were insured when they needed to purchase a modified vehicle for their daughter Emma (now 3 ½ years old), who was born with neurological issues as well as a seizure disorder. This van was needed to safely transport Emma to her doctor appointments and other medical follow-up visits.  Although insured, the family still had sizeable expenses remaining for co- payments and deductibles.  The Commission approved an award of over $36,300 toward the cost of their vehicle and uncovered medical expenses.

Alfred and Jill Mossbrooks of Bridgeton, Cumberland County needed to modify their home to accommodate the special needs of their son Max, (now 10 years old) who has cerebral palsy. Max has a spastic quadriplegia, is non verbal, is fed via a feeding tube, requires total supportive care and uses a wheelchair for mobility. The family modified their home for accessibility and ease of care, adding an accessible bedroom and specially equipped bathroom for Max’s needs.  Although insured, they also had significant out-of-pocket medical expenses including co-pays for pharmacy, durable medical equipment and disposable medical supplies.  The Fund was able to assist the family with an award of over $28,500 toward these extraordinary costs.

Gregory and Christine Parr of Ewing, Mercer County, realized they needed to modify their home to accommodate the specialized needs of their daughter Catherine (now 6 years old). Catherine has an undiagnosed condition which causes her to have low muscle tone, as well as significant developmental delays.  She is non-verbal and non- ambulatory, requiring total care and the use of a wheelchair for mobility. In addition to the home modification expense, the family had expenses uncovered by insurance, plus co-payments and deductibles.  The Commission awarded this family over $28,500. 

Donald and Liza Mailloux of Newton, Sussex County, had health insurance when their son Dalton (now 1 ½ years old) was born with a defect of his abdominal wall requiring surgical correction. At 3 months of age he required a subsequent surgery and now has recovered without complications.  Although insured, the family was left with bills for physicians and hospital services which they were unable to pay.  The Fund paid these bills for the family in an amount exceeding $14,700.

[These families could not attend today but were still willing to be included in the press release.]

Antonio and Maria Cintron of Lakewood, Ocean County, were insured when Adianez (now 1 ½ years old) was born prematurely at 27 weeks gestation.  She required a prolonged hospitalization for neonatal intensive care and an apnea monitor when she was eventually discharged home.  The family was left with significant physician bills for an out-of-network provider. The Fund relieved this family’s debt with an award of $7,900.

Ronald and Tammy Rankine of Cherry Hill, Camden County, were in a waiting period for their health insurance to begin, when their son Thomas (now 6 years old) experienced unexplained seizure activity and required hospitalization and treatment.  A subsequent seizure occurred at a later time when they were insured, but coverage was denied due to this being a pre-existing condition, leaving them with uncovered medical expenses for hospital, physicians and pharmacy services.  The CICRF award of more than $10,200 relieved their medical debt.

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