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Catastrphic Illness In Children Relief Fund Commission
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For Immediate Release:
December 16, 2009

For Information, Contact:
Suzanne Esterman, 609-292-3703

TRENTON – Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced more than $3 million in financial assistance awarded by the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund Relief Fund Commission (CICRFC) to help families dealing with their children’s extraordinary medical expenses.
“In this economic climate, the work of the Commission is a critical safety net for families with uncovered medical bills related to their child’s illness,” Governor Corzine said. “This assistance ensures that families can focus on the important needs of their children without worrying about their ability to pay for necessary medical care.” 

“For the first six months of this fiscal year, the CICRF will help 148 eligible families desperate for relief from expenses associated with their child’s illness that insurance won’t pay,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner, Jennifer Velez. “I am proud to say that New Jersey can provide this lifeline through CICRFC – unique in the United States - for so many families when they face catastrophic medical costs for their child.” These figures represent an increase of over $900,000 for an additional 58 families over last year.

Since its creation in 1989, the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund has awarded more than $124 million to over 5,100 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 Ralph J. Condo, Executive Director of the Fund.  “A family may have health insurance, but coverage often is 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 $1.50 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.   


Antonio Bohaczyk's dad tells the audience how much the wheelchair means to Antonio's independence. recipient families watch
Even with the economic recession, the Fund has been able to award more than $3 million to assist families dealing with their children’s extraordinary medical expenses.  Joseph Bohaczyk (above) told the audience how much the Fund had helped his family acquire a specialized, modified van to transport his son Antonio.
Jen Velez and Janice Prontnicki, MD

DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez joined Commission Vice Chair Janice Prontnicki, MD, (right) and Governor Jon S. Corzine to praise the Commission as a critical safety net helping, in the first six months of this fiscal year, 148 families with uncovered medical bills related to their child’s illness.
Families in Attendance:
Four families from Burlington and Mercer counties, who received financial awards from the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund (CICRF) attended the Fund’s annual mid-year ceremony in the Governor’s Office on Wednesday, December 16, 2009, to show their appreciation for the Fund. 

Bohaczyk family

Joseph Bohaczyk and Rafaelina Velazquez of Burlington, Burlington County, turned to the Fund when they realized they would need a specialized, modified van to transport their son Antonio, who is now 9 years old. Antonio has cerebral palsy and requires assistance with all activities of daily living.  Not only was the Fund able to help with the cost of the modified van, but also with costs associated with co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance, for expenses not covered by insurance. The family received an award of over $41,000 to offset some of these significant expenses.

Perr family 

Richard and Cindy Perr of Medford, Burlington County, were insured when their premature baby Connor (who is now 4 years old) was born at just 25 weeks of gestation. Connor required intensive home care services when he finally came home, and the family incurred significant expenses in spite of insurance coverage. The Fund was able to help offset these enormous out-of-pocket expenses with an award of over $45,000.  In fact, the family re-applied for a second year and was awarded an additional $30,768 for additional out of pocket expenses for a previous year of uncovered medical expenses.

Shaw familyTia Shnee Shaw of Robbinsville, Mercer County was insured when her daughter Ky-Mani developed multiple complications following delivery. Ky-Mani, who is now 1 1/2 years old, requires total care for all activities of daily living due to a stroke she experienced, intracranial bleeding and severe visual problems.   The Fund was able to assist this family with some leftover expenses amounting to over $3,300.
Heino family 

Michele Heino of Marlton, Burlington County was insured when her daughter Madelynne was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss and required multiple tests, consultations and screenings.  She was left with significant expenses after insurance paid their portion.. The family was able to apply for two years worth of out-of-pocket expenses and received $2,061 for one year and $2,759 for the other.

(Unable to Attend) - Lynn Brown, of Willingboro, Burlington County, and her daughter Jessica (now 19) were insured during the year of application. They encountered numerous bills after insurance when Jessica was hospitalized for treatment of her diabetes mellitus. The Fund was able to assist with those remaining expenses with an award of over $13,000.

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