Tag Archive: Medicaid

News Roundup and Open Thread for Thursday, July 30, 2015

A heat wave continues today: stay cool and hydrated.

Despite an appeal to the Appellate Court from environmental groups: oral arguments start this morning on the NJDEP v. Exxon settlement case. Among others in protest, Sen. Ray Lesniak will submit his statement indicating, “The court should reject Christie’s settlement because it violates laws of the State of New Jersey, in addition to being unfair, unreasonable and inadequate.”

To dig or not to dig: Christie says he and Gov. Cuomo are committed to building a new trans-Hudson tunnel and will meet with the US Secretary of Transportation shortly. Christie has his demands. He, Cuomo, and the Port Authority are looking to the feds for substantial funding. With a dysfunctional congress that now can not even agree on how to refund the depleted US transportation account, this plan could be a tunnel too far. However, any news seems like good news for NJ Transit riders who just went through a week in hell.

Sen. Sweeney wants a $1 trillion federal loan program to rescue the states’ public worker pensions. A nice idea, but is this an impossible dream?

Christie’s vanity campaign: Real Clear Politics today indicates he is 10th (3.2) with Kasich now ahead of him in the national polls, 13th (2.3) in Iowa, 7th (5.0) in New Hampshire and 9th (5.7) in South Carolina.

Christie’s campaign proposes to sharply limit federal health care funding under Medicaid: NJPP says, “It would result in the loss of about $15 billion in federal funding for New Jersey over eight years.”  

President Christie’s’ choice for Supreme Court: would be a Samuel Alito clone. No surprise there, but it makes one wonder after so many harsh pronouncements on the road what he will espouse when he returns to his governor’s job in blue New Jersey.

Super PAC’s start to dominate races in NJ: POLITICO: Four of the five Democrats considering a run for governor in 2017 have super PACs. There was even one for a town council race in Parsippany.

Super storm Sandy lingering effects: slow rebuilding of homes and businesses, long insurance battles and mold that refuses to die – have taken a toll on the mental health of residents in its path.

Rutgers to give stipends to scholarship athletes: Under new NCAA rules they will receive up to $4,900.

Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh coming to New Jersey: The Haskell Invitational horse race takes place at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport Sunday. Don’t expect to find hotel space anywhere near there this weekend.

How slavery was written into New Jersey’s DNA: Salon’s fascinating early history of slavery in our state – including Mendham Township.  

Rethink the 2016 NJ Budget: Reinvest Health Savings to Meet NJ’s Growing Human Service Needs

Here’s the latest in our 7-week budget series, on what NJ’s spending priorities should be – Rethink the 2016 NJ Budget, with the Anti-Poverty Network. Ray is Senior Policy Analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspective – Rosi.

Rethink the 2016 NJ BudgetThe state budget proposal for the coming year contains precious few increases to respond to the continued increases in poverty faced by New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents. One apparent exception to this trend is the 11 percent increase in funding for the Department of Human Services (DHS), the department of the executive branch that oversees most of the social service programs that funded by or through the State –

programs for healthcare, mental health, and disability services, as well as the income assistance programs and supplemental nutrition assistance that serve the poorest of the poor.

But don’t be fooled: This increase is not so much the result of more state investment, but the increasing reliance on federal dollars to meet New Jersey’s needs. In other words, The money that comes through DHS has increased, but the state itself has not increased its budget commitment to meet the growing need. In fact, the increased federal dollars are not even going as far as they could, because some of those resources have been diverted to plug other spending gaps.

Here are the numbers:

Christie, trying to get attention, takes on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

In an effort to recapture the attention and enthusiasm of Republicans, Gov. Christie today in a speech in New Hampshire proposed substantial changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. What he calls “entitlement reform” may appear as bold and appealing to conservative primary voters, but the plan is cynical, crafty, unnecessary and contrary to what is needed. It may stimulate discussion, it may backfire on him, or as a third-tier candidate it may not survive many news cycles, but it’s not a sensible plan.

Christie’s plan is cynical as it disregards the needs of less wealthy ageing Americans who would have to wait longer for Social Security and Medicare. Daniel Kurz, who has blogged on Blue Jersey, expresses his outrage on Facebook: “I guess people in their 60’s never get seriously ill in large numbers and can, for the most part, continue to sell their physical labor and compete with 26 year olds. The message from the NJ governor is clear: if you’re 67, and you’re chronically unemployed, and you have been paying into Social Security for four decades, then do us all a favor and drop dead.”

Christie’s plan is crafty because it has no immediate impact, delays the start date and is implemented gradually. Even Tea Party, Evangelical, and fiscally conservative Republicans are on these plans or hope to be. It starts raising the retirement age to 69 (from 67) in 2022 and then only by two months each year until it reaches 69 in 2044.  For Medicare it raises eligibility age at a pace of one month per year, so that by 2064 it would be 69. As Christie explains, “The changes I propose today would not affect seniors currently in these programs or seniors approaching retirement, so let me repeat that, before they start running these pushing granny in the wheel chair off the cliff ads.” He got a few laughs from this ugly remark, and maybe a few sighs of relief.

Let’s celebrate the 5th anniversary of the ACA

Patrick Murray’s Monmouth University Polling Institute held a panel discussion yesterday on the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. Its ominous title was: “Is it working in New Jersey?” Apparently not so well according to three businessmen on the panel – the presidents of Meridian Health, Monmouth Medical Center, and NJ Association of Health Plans. There was no ACA representative (such as  U.S. Health and Human Services Regional Director Jackie Cornell-Bechelli who manages ACA locally), nor advocates who advise and help people enroll and who are more aware of of the impact on patients for whom the ACA is designed. Nor were there individuals from large inner cities like Paterson or Newark where the need and problems are more severe. 

Fortunately, former Governor James Florio, the fourth panelist, was there to provide a broader perspective. So despite the doom and gloom from some quarters, there is good reason to celebrate this anniversary.  

What’s Up in 2015

With facts (and help from a psychic advisor) below is what you need to know about our new year:

  • Minimum wage – On January 1 following a one dollar raise in 2014 it increases by an indexed amount of 13 cents to $8.38. Gov. Christie said “No,” but voters said “Yes.” It will help put more money into our economy, but is still low in an expensive state.

  • Petitions for the 2015 Elections – They will be posted on or about the first week of January. All 80 Assembly seats are up in November but only recent vacant seats in the Senate.  

  • State of the State Address – Gov. Christie delivers his speech on January 13 with another moment of truthiness as he trumpets his perceived accomplishments over the past years. Also he likely will drop hints and trial balloons over what he wants to include in the new budget.  

    For more go below the fold, and

    Happy New Year to all our readers.