Washington’s heated rhetoric and constant attempts to sabotage health care coverage is causing uncertainty these days for far too many families. It’s not right, so here in New Jersey we are fighting back and taking a stand for quality health care coverage.
Under Gov. Phil Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is fighting back against President Trump’s effort to undo hard-fought protections that ensure health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you nor charge you more just because you have a pre-existing condition. While the Trump Administration is trying to undermine these pre-existing protections in court, I was proud to file a declaration on behalf of New Jersey with the District Court supporting the protections and coverage gains our state has seen under the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Murphy also has restored funding for women’s health care, taken steps to bolster the health insurance marketplace and signed legislation to strengthen the Affordable Care Act in New Jersey.
But that’s just part of the effort.
The new state budget signed by Gov. Murphy modernizes New Jersey’s Medicaid program. More than 1.7 million New Jerseyans are enrolled in this important health care program, so this is a significant investment in comprehensive health care coverage that also tackles some of the state’s most challenging public health challenges.
New and expanded Medicaid benefits include:
- Preventing Diabetes: Medicaid will cover new diabetes benefits to prevent, treat and manage one of the leading chronic diseases in our state. Medicaid will focus on self-management education and training, medical nutrition therapy and the nationally recognized strategy to cut diabetes risk called the National Diabetes Prevention Program.
- Helping to Quit Tobacco: Medicaid enrollees no longer need to wait for health plan approval to get access to medications to help them quit tobacco. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, so removing barriers to quitting is a must.
- Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Medicaid will cover autism spectrum disorder benefits. New Jersey previously only covered select services for a small population in a pilot program, but it’s estimated more than 10,000 youth in our state have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. The budget gives young people with Medicaid coverage access to appropriate screening and treatment.
- Combatting the Opioid Epidemic: Medicaid will offer a more complete benefit package to assist those who are battling opioid and other substance use disorders. In addition to new services like detox and residential treatment, the budget includes new investments in outpatient treatment.
- Enhancing Hepatitis C Treatment: The budget lifts restrictions on access to drugs that can cure hepatitis C, allowing individuals to receive curative treatment when they are diagnosed rather than having to wait until they experience liver damage. New Jersey’s Medicaid program previously restricted who was eligible for treatment, and lagged behind other states, but now provides more comprehensive access to treatment for Medicaid enrollees.
- Expanding Family Planning Benefits: The budget expands Medicaid family planning services to residents with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. These newly eligible recipients will have access to a package of family planning-related services. The budget also implements post-partum Medicaid coverage of long-acting reversible contraception, allowing New Jersey to remove a restriction limiting access to one of the most effective forms of contraception.
The Murphy Administration will continue to find ways to improve Medicaid benefits and remove barriers to care. Governor Murphy is committed to a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all residents, which includes health care coverage that works for New Jersey families.
Carole Johnson is commissioner of the N.J. Department of Human Services. She previously served as a senior health policy advisor for President Obama, managed health care policy issues for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and worked on Capitol Hill for members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.