Tag Archive: Medicaid

What’s Happening Today Tue. 12/31/2013


As 2013 fades into history, let’s look forward to tomorrow. There is plenty of unfinished business to occupy our attention in 2014. Here are some suggestions:

  • Budget Safety Net: The poor and the middle class are not a priority for Gov. Christie, but with an upcoming strained budget they must be for the legislature.

  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Continue local efforts in support of this national initiative and urge your congressman to support it.

  • Drug Courts & Sentencing: Gov. Christie supports drug courts but more funding is needed. It is time to reduce prison entries for nonviolent offenders and revamp existing drug laws.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit: Gov. Christie should restore the credit to 25%.

  • Economy: Reduce wasteful subsidies to large corporations and invest more in good schools and a well-trained, highly-educated workforce.  

  • Education: Expand State-funded pre-school classes for needy kids and reduce inflated college costs.

  • Financial Assistance for Dreamers: The other half of the Dream Act.

  • Gun Control: The legislature should reintroduce bills vetoed by Gov. Christie.

  • GWB Scandal: Find out the truth behind the lane closures and reform the Port Authority.

  • Halfway Houses: Reform this system which is a bonanza for corporations and politicians but no help for inmates or the public.

  • Health Insurance & Medicaid: Provide education and assistance to assure more enrollment into better quality ACA insurance and into the expanded Medicaid program.

  • Housing: Gov. Christie should end his raiding and obstruction of the affordable housing program.

  • Infrastructure: New Jersey has about $70 billion worth of infrastructure work and the price tag will only increase if the state continues to put off making the needed improvements.

  • Marriage Equality: Continue discussion as to whether ME should be passed by the legislature, and create a veto-proof majority.

  • Millionaire Tax Surcharge: Implement this fair and essential method to increase needed state revenue.

  • Pinelands & Fracking: There should be no gas line through the Pinelands. There should be no fracking or transportation or disposal of its waste in NJ.

  • Property Tax: Encourage (and remove barriers to) consolidation and sharing services.

  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Christie withdrew NJ from RGGI. It’s time to rejoin the initiative.

  • Retire Rep. Scott Garrett (CD 5): Will a worthy opponent please stand up.

  • Sandy Recovery: Start with transparency, bring an end to discrimination, assure financial aid to those most in need, strengthen the State-wide plan (including safe location for buses and trains) and insist on resiliency.

  • Solar Power: The administration should move forward with plans for offshore facilities.

  • Supreme Court Nominees: Christie has already placed two Republicans on the court. He should nominate a Democrat and grant tenure to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner or the Senate should continue ignoring his nominees.

  • Womens’ Healthcare: Gov. Christie should fund Planned Parenthood.

    Open thread: What is on your agenda for 2014?


  • AZ’s Republican Gov Embraces Medicaid Expansion. NJ’s Needs To Do the Same

    promoted by Rosi

    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has become just the third Republican governor in the country to opt in to a crucial piece of Obamacare: the Medicaid expansion. Brewer, a Republican, did so even though she continues to oppose the Affordable Care Act in principle.

    With the feds picking up nearly all of the costs, it’s no wonder Gov. Brewer came to her senses and opted in to the expansion, which will help boost Arizona’s economy while providing health coverage to those in need.

    Your move, Gov. Christie.

    For background on why the expansion is a no-brainer, check out these two recent NJPP reports: 9 Great Reasons to Expand Medicaid in New Jersey Now and Another Reason to Expand Medicaid: Working New Jerseyans in Most Occupations Would Benefit

    Rushing To The June 30 Finish Line: The Budget and Tax Cut Proposals

     Whatever does not pass the legislature in about two week will probably not see the light of day for three or many more months later. There are important issues under consideration now including minimum wage, Rutgers/UDNJ/RutRow, teacher tenure, drug courts, a bond issue for public and private colleges, and more. But let’s take one proposal at a time, and start with the mad rush to complete the budget with or without a “tax reduction” plan.

    The two alpha males, Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney, have been holding private conversations. Christie carries the big stick but does not speak softly. He said yesterday he wouldn’t sign a budget which does not include a tax cut and he uses the scare tactic of closing down the government after June 30. For him any type of “tax cut,” even if it is really “property tax relief,” is something he can take on his national tour, use to increase his Republican Party credibility, and help him win votes next year in a re-election bid. Likewise Senate President Sweeney can use passage of a popular property tax relief program to help him in his political ambitions. Let’s remember that this program does not reduce property taxes, it just provides a credit to tax payers which increases the State budget. Some legislators, see this facile program as a win-win in NJ’s tradition of giving voters what they like and not worrying about the future. Deja vu all over again!

    However, the piper must be paid. In view of NJ’s reduced incoming tax revenues and slow economic growth, we do not have the money to pay the piper and we have other more pressing needs. The governor projects a tax revenue shortfall of about $700 million and OLS predicts a shortfall of $1.4 billion, either of which is perilous in these uncertain times. The governor placed $183 million in the 2013 Budget for his 10% tax cut – an amount the legislature has proposed using for property tax relief. According to the State House Bureau the tax cut puts NJ on a course to lose at least $1 billion annually in the coming years.

    The just issued National Governors’ Association Report: The Fiscal Survey of States provides new data and insight regarding NJ’s 2013 Budget proposals:

  • The Budget increase of 7.2% is the highest percentage expenditure change of any state. Other than California, all other states project less than 6%, and some project decreases. (page 19)

  • The budget has significant program cuts in Public Assistance and Medicaid. (page 23)

  • NJ budget uses net transfers to other funds (page 35) which reduces transparency.  

  • Substantial increases in projected sales, personal income and corporate taxes (page 51) which are hard to justify.

  • The Governor has not proposed significant changes at the state level which affect local governments’ financial operations. (page 81)

  • The total budget balance as a percentage of expenditures is 0.9% ranking it 47th. (page 62)

    47th, according to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, is where we ranked in 2011 in terms of economic growth. 47th is also how Chief Executive Magazine rated NJ as a place to do business. This is no time for the government to spend $183 million on any kind of tax reduction program. There may be a desire on the part of Christie to increase to $400,000 in income the level at which property tax relief becomes available or there may be a desire on the part of legislators to reduce the cost of the program or introduce it more gradually. However, the reduced tax revenues, high unemployment, high indebtedness, our economy, and many other more important needs all make clear that this is not the time to gives ourselves a tax reduction present. In the German fairy tale the result of not paying the piper resulted in the death of children, which given our governor’s attitude toward Medicaid and public assistance, could be our fate as well.        

  • From Death’s Door to Disney World

    My friends Mike and Kathy Pollock epitomize the type of New Jerseyans that the Republicans love to venerate. They are small businesspersons, running a mom and pop hardware store in Camden County.

    They have been battling the medical-industrial complex for many years. Kathy is severely compromised and needs continuous therapy which over the years has slowly but consistently improved her outlook – until Governor Christie took over.

    I’ll let Mike tell the story. These are his words – edited only for minor grammar and spelling changes, and published with his permission.

    When my wife and the mom of our two terrific boys Kathy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor followed by two massive strokes as a result of the treatment for the tumor, our world was in turmoil. But we fought through the immorality of our for-profit health care system. We were at times stymied by denials from our health insurer and felt the uncomfortable position that doctors found themselves in due to the resistance of a for-profit corporation that in reality had the power of life and death over our beloved Kathy. Because of my unbending resolve and her determination to live, we prevailed.

    Chris Christie Tells All at Koch June Retreat

    You want to know what Christie plans to do in this state? You can find out all the details. He explained it in detail to the attendees of a secret Koch seminar.

    Chris Christie was the keynote speaker at the Koch June 2011 seminar in Vail, Colorado. Mother Jones’ writer Brad Friedman has just written a two-part report on this highly guarded, invitation-only strategy and fund-raising meeting of approximately 300 politicians, right-wing media star, corporate presidents and CEOs, and the wealthiest of political donors. Today’s article covers Christie’s keynote address – and has the complete audio. Christie’s speech lasts almost an hour, and he is extremely blunt about his plans for the State of New Jersey – and, later, for the entire country.

    He openly mocks New Jersey Democrats. He is determined to get rid of the state teachers’ union so that he and the Plutocrats can mold the children of New Jersey: “we need to decide who is determining our children’s future, who is running this place. Them or us? I say it’s us.”

    Link to the article and the audio:


    The $25-from-every-New-Jerseyan-for-Xanadu bill and what else to watch for this week

    Are you ready to give $25 from your pocket to Xanadu ($100 for a family of four)?

    That is one of several important questions to be decided this week in Trenton, each of which we’d be seriously fixated on if not for the undoubtedly even more important anti-union armageddon currently unfolding. Still, these things are worth keeping an eye on because they all have a huge impact. Here are the top five, in no particular order:

    1. Will thousands of working families be kicked off of Medicaid? Gov. Christie (R-Rove) has decreed that working families earning more than $6,000 a year should be dropped from Medicaid. Thus creating new incentives to go from work to welfare. Will the Democrats stand up and try to block this change (not clear from the reporting exactly how much power the Legislature has, but at the least they could pass a resolution telling the Obama Administration to reject the waivers needed)?

    2. Will we have to pay $25 each to bail out Xanadu? Sens. Ray Lesniak (D-Progressive Social Causes and Crony Capitalism) and Kevin O’Toole (R-Tool) have introduced a bill to expand the ability of the Christie Administration to give away our money to large developers to include the Meadowlands. If you have driven the Turnpike recently, you may be aware that the Meadowlands includes a large eyesore called Xanadu which has been a total failure. Apparently the solution to this problem is for everyone in the state to pay $25 (that is $200 million divided by the 8 million people in NJ) to a large Canadian developer in order to get the mall ready for opening. I have two questions: could those of us below I-195 at least have the option of giving the money to a more local mall that is not 100 miles away, or perhaps have it go to the casinos and at least get $25 in chips back? And if this expert is right that even with $200 million of our tax money the project only has a 50-50 chance of success (after all four prior owners have failed), do we get double our money back if it fails again? Seriously, is this really something that the Democrats are going to support instead of using to bash Christie?

    3. Does the Open Public Records Act still exist? First Gov. Christie refuses to let us know who is on the helicopter with him. Then he claims executive privilege for e-mails with Roger Ailes. Did OPRA get repealed while we weren’t looking? And is anyone going to hold him accountable?

    4. Women’s health: what happens next? Planned Parenthood, our own Sen. Weinberg (D – Actually a D), and many others have been running probably the best progressive campaign of the year against Christie’s deeply unpopular cuts in women’s health. What happens next? Do the Dems take it up a notch? Like hold Xanadu, which costs over 20 times as much, hostage? Now, you may say: those are the kind of techniques that Republicans use, not Democrats. Which brings us to the next and final point…

    5. Will the Democrats reverse all of their progress in making Chris Christie unpopular? For a while, Senate President Sweeney (D-Sorry About that Marriage Thing) and Speaker Oliver (D-What Happened to that Awesome State Convention Speech?) were on a roll – and Christie was having bad week after bad week – jobs numbers, helicopters, women’s health – and looked more arrogant than strong. Now, Christie is going to have a new round of bragging rights from overcoming the unions’ power. Christie this week looks more strong than arrogant. Are there any other tricks up leadership’s sleeve to help boost Christie’s sagging poll numbers?

    It is going to be an interesting week with a lot at stake for our state’s future. And please post additions to this list if I missed something.

    Lautenberg, Menendez & Pallone Speak Out Against Christie Medicaid Plans

    New Jersey’s two senators and the congressman New Jerseyans most closely associate with health care reform are joining forces to speak out against Governor Christie’s “draconian” cuts to Medicaid, which will result would result in the loss of medical care for tens of thousands of residents of their home state.

    Christie has shown repeatedly that New Jerseyans falling through cracks are not high priority for him – low-income women and people suffering from pain or cancer can attest to that – but in this case the governor is actually widening those cracks.

    More after the jump.

    Thousands of NJ-7 Seniors at Risk Under GOP Plan

    promoted by Rosi

    A new analysis by the House Commerce Committee provides District by District information on the impact of Republican Medicare Plan and Medicaid cuts, illuminating the disastrous impact of the Ryan Budget supported by my opponent right here in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District.

    Congressman Leonard Lance supported the Ryan budget, which ends Medicare as we know it, turning Medicare into a voucher program.

    Here is the impact, by the numbers on NJ-7’s CD directly from the analysis:

      • Reduce coverage for 8,400-dual eligible seniors and individuals with disabilities.

      • Jeopardize nursing home care for 1,800

      • Impair the healthcare of 13,000 children (including 400 newborns)

      • Cut payments for Emergency Room visits for 5,000 patients

      • Cut payments to hospitals for 1,500 inpatient visits

    Medicaid assistance under the Ryan Plan cuts an average of $13,000 per enrollee over the next decade, putting seniors and persons with disabilities at risk.

    This analysis is aligned with the report from May by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), which estimated that a typical 65-year-old Medicare beneficiary in 2022 would see their out-of-pocket health care costs increase from $6,154 to $12,513 under the Republican budget.

    If the Ryan plan to turn Medicare into an inadequate voucher program, for which Congressman Lance voted, were to be signed into law, seniors across America would face bleak economic prospects. But with the exception of Florida, there is no state more disastrously impacted than right here in New Jersey. Congressman Lance has seen these numbers and well knows that by 2022 out of pocket expenses for the typical 65-year old enrollee in New Jersey would jump from $6,832.43 to $13,892.47, the second biggest increase in America ($7,060.03).

    I’ll fight against that ever being enacted every day I’m in office.

    Please help me in fighting for our Seniors and standing up to the GOP’s Budget by joining Congressman Barney Frank at an event supporting my 2012 campaign for Congress on June 18th in Warren, Somerset County, NJ.  RSVP Today.

    Choose Life

    Universal Health Care License Plate

    In his continuous pandering to the right-wing mainstream of the Republican Party, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie knows no bounds. Christie has appeared at anti-abortion rallies, and while he grudgingly accept the scientific fact that global climate change is man-made, his policies benefit big business rather than those citizens who breathe air and drink water.  

    Yet, critical examination shows that Christie’s approach promotes death, not life.

    Take, for example, his proposal to eliminate Medicaid for New Jersey families earning less than $500 per month. If enacted, his legislation will put 23,000 people at the mercy of the for-profit insurance companies, which in reality means they will not receive medical care. I’m not an actuary, and I’m not comparing the governor to a terrorist, but I would not be surprised if this lack of preventative and remedial medical care results in more deaths than those perpetrated by Osama Bin Laden on 9/11. In Maryland, a 12-year-old boy died for the lack of an $80 procedure when his family lost Medicaid. How many stories like this will we have in New Jersey that won’t even be reported in the media?

    But it’s not just Christie’s heartless attitude toward the poor that will cost lives. How many women will die because of their lack of access to pap smears and breast exams because Governor Christie thought an $800 million tax break for millionaires was more important than $7.5 million for women’s health? How many children will develop life-long lung diseases and suffer premature death because of the Governor’s foolish withdrawal from the successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative? (As I’ve written before, Christie is not an effective manager, he is a quitter. Rather than negotiate changes to RGGI or the ARC tunnel, he just picks up his marbles and goes home, ignoring the consequences.)

    The first “inalienable right” of the people, as codified in the Declaration of Independence’s “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is life itself. But the actions of the governor and his tea-party comrades are antithetical to the Declaration’s right to life. Instead of pouring money into discriminatory charter schools and giving tax breaks to the wealthy, the governor should re-examine his priorities as well as how he carries out his own personal beliefs and choose life.