PATERSON, NJ- U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) joined New Jersey Commissioner of Banking Insurance Marlene Caride, as well as Mayor Andre Sayegh and Kevin Slavin, president and CEO, Saint Joseph’s Health, on Friday to encourage New Jersey residents to sign up for health care coverage before the December 15 deadline to enroll.

“Don’t let the opportunity pass you by,” Menendez urged before offering a sobering reminder that many individuals and families are “one illness or injury away from financial ruin.”

St. Joseph’s University Medical Center is one of 44 designation organizations across the state assisting residents seeking coverage. Anyone who needs help with the enrollment process can visit the hospital between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday or call 973-754-2305, Stephen Ludwig, an enrollment specialist said.

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“Since the very beginning of this critical legislation, we recognized that healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act is essential to our communities and to the viability of hospitals and health care providers,” Slavin said. “At St. Joseph’s, we have a dedicated team in place to simplify enrollment for individuals and families.”  

While the Trump Administration has continued to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including by cutting the enrollment period from three months to just six weeks and bringing a lawsuit to federal court to eliminate key parts of the law, Menendez said, the senior senator promised that he will continue to fight to make sure all Americans have access to affordable health care.

“Even the healthiest get sick,” Menendez said. “Even the most agile athletes get hurt.”

While the federal law has been changed since it was signed by President Barack Obama, New Jersey law still requires all residents to be covered by health insurance, Caride reminded, making enrolling for a plan by December 15 even more important as “otherwise they will have to pay a penalty at tax time.” While many may believe they can not afford health insurance Caride added that eight out of 10 New Jersey residents who obtained coverage through the federal marketplace previously have been eligible for financial assistance. 

The process to obtain insurance can be “intimidating” Caride acknowledged, urging anyone who needs assistance to visit GetCovered.NJ.gov.

“A strong community is a healthy community, and that starts with making sure all Americans have access to quality health care, especially preventative” Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson. “We are proud to stand with Senator Menendez and Commissioner Caride in these final days of enrollment, and will do what we can to get all residents covered.”

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