TRENTON – Legislation, sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senator James Beach, extending the time period in which newborns are covered under their parents’ health benefits coverage to 60 days after birth was approved today by the full Senate.

“After childbirth the parents of a newborn are consumed with the many responsibilities of keeping their newborn healthy and safe and the short timeframe for enrolling their child in health insurance can be problematic,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passiac), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This bill would provide a longer period of time for children to be covered under their parents’ health care benefits and ensure that children are not left without insurance during the first few months of life.”

Current law limits the coverage of newly born children to 30 days from their birth. At the conclusion of 30 days, the child would be without coverage, unless the parents enroll the child in a private health benefits coverage policy or in a State or federal program, such as FamilyCare. The bill, S-837, would apply only to private health insurance policies.

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“Having health insurance is critically important for a newborn and going through the process of securing coverage requires time," said Senator Beach (D-Camden/Burlington). “This legislation will ensure that the parents of a newborn have ample time to get their child enrolled and covered. This will both benefit the newborn child and prevent parents from being stuck with costly medical costs from their baby going uninsured.”

The bill would take effect immediately.

According to a report by the New Jersey Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), approximately 65 percent of women who had a live birth from 2002 to 2005 were covered by private insurance; 32 percent were covered by NJ FamilyCare (Medicaid); and three percent were uninsured at the time of birth.

The bill was approved by the full Senate with a vote of 33-0. The bill goes back to the Assembly for a final vote.