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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Herb Conaway, M.D. to restore eligibility for parents Gov. Chris Christie tossed out of the successful NJ FamilyCare program was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-3938) appropriates $6.4 million to the Department of Human Services to enable parents to enroll and continue to be enrolled in the NJ FamilyCare program. The state money would help bring in an additional $11.9 million in federal funds for the program.

NJ FamilyCare is a federal and state funded health insurance program created to help New Jersey’s uninsured children and low-income parents and guardians obtain affordable health coverage. For example, children in a family of four with a monthly income of up to $6,432 could be eligible.

Last year the governor barred enrollment from some parents in NJ FamilyCare. Since March 2010, the number of adults enrolled in NJ FamilyCare has been reduced by 19,200.

“We know this program saves money and we know allowing parents to enroll in it helps ensure coverage for children, which ultimately saves taxpayer money and makes last year’s cut by the governor highly questionable,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “NJ FamilyCare is for families who do not have available or affordable employer insurance, and cannot afford to pay the high cost of private health insurance. If they don’t get his coverage, they will go to the emergency room for even more expensive care, so this bill is fiscally sensible and responsible.”

“This bill is the right thing to do for our taxpayers and our families,” said Conaway (D-Burlington/Camden). “Last year’s decision by the governor to slice this program will simply lead to higher costs to taxpayers through costlier hospital visits. This plan to attract federal help, bring about a healthier New Jersey and save taxpayer money is a sound approach.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Human Services Committee chaired by Vainieri Huttle.