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Gov. Jon S. Corzine, with DMAHS Asst. Dir. Valerie Harr and DHS Commissioner Jen Velez, announces that NJ has applied to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services for a waiver to expand Medicaid family planning assistance for over 70,000 more folks

NEWS RELEASE
Governor Jon S. Corzine
October 6, 2009

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Robert Corrales
609-777-2600

NEW BRUNSWICK – Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced that New Jersey has applied to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for a waiver to expand Medicaid coverage for family planning assistance for over 70,000 New Jerseyans otherwise not qualified for subsidized insurance.
 
 
State submits Federal application to expand family planning services for over 70,000 residents
The proposal, submitted by the Department of Human Services (DHS), would provide health screenings and contraceptive counseling and supplies to men and women between the ages of 18 and 49 with incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($21,000 per year).  
 
“Health care access has been a cornerstone of my Administration from the start,” said Governor Corzine. “This innovative initiative captures a population of men and women who might not otherwise seek family planning services because of cost factors.  New Jersey truly is maximizing every opportunity to provide essential health services to our residents.”
 
The importance of providing eligible adults with family planning support is to reduce unintended pregnancies, prevent unintended high risk pregnancies, reduce the proportion of Medicaid births spaced less than two years apart and to allow early detection of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) through regular health screenings. These services are typically provided by Planned Parenthood Health Centers, Family Planning Agencies, hospitals, health departments and Federally Qualified Health Centers throughout New Jersey.
 
“Women and men who want to take control of this particular aspect of their health care: planning a family, or not – will have options for support once this waiver is approved,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “This project concept really is a sea-change in the benefits afforded under New Jersey’s subsidized health care system.”
 
DHS anticipates long-term savings to Medicaid in the reduction of unplanned or unintended pregnancies in the eligible population.
 
“We know that women who receive prenatal care beginning in their first trimester tend to stay healthier and have healthier babies,” said Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “Inadequate prenatal care late in a pregnancy can lead to dangerous complications including low birth weights, infant mortality and—even the death of a mother. Quite simply, a healthy mother equals the best chance of a healthy baby.”
 
The Department of Health and Senior Services’ Prenatal Care Task Force recommended that the State apply for the waiver in their report issued in July 2008 http://www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/documents/task_force_report.pdf. The 1115 Waiver application was forwarded by DHS to the DHHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Monday, October 5th.   Initial feedback from CMS has been favorable and New Jersey expects an expedited response to the waiver application.  
 
 
Below is Governor Corzine’s letter to Secretary Sebelius:
Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
United States Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
 
 
October 6, 2009
 
Madame Secretary:
 
The New Jersey Department of Human Services has submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services an 1115 demonstration waiver request to expand family planning services to nearly 70,000 state residents otherwise unqualified for subsidized health insurance benefits. The proposal would empower men and women between the ages of 18 and 49 with income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level to manage their reproductive health – and reduce the occurrence of unintended or high-risk pregnancies. I would appreciate your expedited review and approval of our application.
 
Access to health care has been a cornerstone of my Administration from the start. Over one million New Jersey residents are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid and CHIP program, NJ FamilyCare. This Family Planning Expansion Project will allow us to outreach tens of thousands more individuals for whom family planning services are cost prohibitive.
 
New Jersey has a population of 8.7 million residents, 51 percent of whom are women. A 2008 state Task Force report found that nearly one-third of all pregnancies in the state are unintended, mistimed or unwanted. This statistic makes family planning and reproductive health services critical for our state.
 
There are many risks associated with unintended pregnancies. Women are nearly two times more likely to delay prenatal care, which can increase the health risks for her and the baby. Mistimed or unwanted pregnancies also can lead to complications during delivery and low birth weight. In New Jersey, 10 percent of all births are pre-term and 8 percent have low birth weight. These situations can negatively affect a child’s healthy development.
 
Our state’s network of Planned Parenthood Health Centers, Family Planning Agencies and Federally Qualified Health Centers provide comprehensive community-based primary healthcare, often with an emphasis on maternal and child health. They are immeasurably skilled and prepared to administer reproductive health care services to the increased population of individuals who will be captured under this waiver.
 
It is our intention to cultivate a realization among those whom we enroll in the NJ Family Planning Expansion Project, a realization that regularity in obtaining these services is an important part of their reproductive health and quality of life.
 
I thank you for your consideration.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Jon S. Corzine
Governor

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