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Hospital Group Receives $1 Million Grant to Help Patients Access Health Insurance

PRINCETON, N.J., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey, an affiliate of the New Jersey Hospital Association, has been awarded a grant of nearly $1 million under a federal program aimed at expanding health insurance coverage to uninsured children.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday announced $40 million in grants to 69 programs in 41 states and the District of Columbia to help them find and enroll children who are uninsured but eligible for either Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program. HRET received a grant of $988,177; the N.J. Department of Human Services received a grant for the same amount. The two projects share the goal of enrolling more children into NJ FamilyCare. HRET's project will focus on enrollment barriers at healthcare delivery sites, while the state will identify school-based enrollment strategies.

"New Jersey's hospitals serve 18 million patients each year - about 3.4 million of them in our emergency departments - and we are committed to caring for the uninsured," said NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan. "But it's clearly better for patients to have access to the ongoing healthcare services they need, rather than the episodic care we can deliver in the ER. This grant will allow us to work more closely with patients and provide the information and support they need to successfully complete the insurance enrollment process."

Hospitals don't have the authority to enroll patients into government insurance programs like NJ FamilyCare or Medicaid. That responsibility lies with the county boards of social services.

But hospitals and other healthcare sites are a key entry point for uninsured individuals in need of care. The federal grant will help HRET develop resources and strategies that allow healthcare providers to better assist patients in initiating the enrollment process and following it through to completion.

The grant will fund a two-year program to help:

  • educate patients about their insurance options,
  • provide informational materials and other resources in varied languages,
  • reach out to specific groups that are eligible for insurance coverage but for some reason haven't yet enrolled, and
  • work with the county agencies to make the enrollment process quicker and easier for uninsured residents.

"Despite a number of outreach efforts, New Jersey still has about 1.2 million residents without health insurance, and many of them are eligible for coverage," said NJHA Vice President of Research Dr. Firoozeh Vali, who will oversee the initiative. "This project aims to break down some of the barriers that stand in the way of residents getting the insurance coverage they need."

NJHA today joined with Gov. Jon Corzine's administration in a "call to action" meeting to discuss their joint efforts to expand insurance coverage in the state.

"We're all in this together," said Ryan. "It takes a committed partnership to ensure that the children of New Jersey receive the healthcare coverage they need, and we're fortunate to have that partnership among the Corzine Administration, our healthcare providers and dozens of school and community groups across the state."

SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association

SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association
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