Medicaid Expansion Success in New Jersey

Over half a million people have enrolled in New Jersey’s Medicaid program since expansion 2014.

Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) recently announced the success of New Jersey’s Medicaid expansion that began in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.

Some states that have chosen to expand their Medicaid program report the benefits of improved patient care and overall better patient health for this population. Studies have also shown that Medicaid expansion is associated with an increased access to primary care, affordability of medication, lower out-of-pocket costs, reduced emergency department visits, and increased outpatient visits.

Since New Jersey’s expansion in 2014, 566,655 New Jersey residents enrolled in Medicaid who would have not been eligible for coverage prior to expansion.

The program, NJ FamilyCare, has enrolled 336,141 newly eligible adults, 101,644 adults and children who were eligible, but not enrolled before expansion. There are 128,870 adults maintaining eligibility because of expansion, according to the NJ FamilyCare 2015 Annual Report.

NJ FamilyCare provides care to 1.7 million enrollees, and features low out-of-pocket costs that are beneficial to the low-income population. In 2011, prior to expansion, New Jersey’s uninsured rate was at 12.4%, but dropped to 9.4% once it expanded. In 2015, a year after expansion, the uninsured rate decreased even further to 6.9%.

Medicaid expansion has also allowed for more treatment options for substance use disorder. Prior to expansion, there were only 2894 enrollees who had access to substance use disorder treatment.

In 2015, a total of 14,357 enrollees received this treatment, a 500% increase. Christie has also allocated $127 million in additional funding for treating substance use and mental health disorders, according to a press release.

Research has shown that patients with these disorders account for the top 1% of the most expensive Medicaid enrollees in New Jersey. By increasing funding and access to treatment, Christie hopes to provide improved care, while also decreasing costs.

The expansion now offers additional services, such as an interim management entity for enrollees and the uninsured with substance use disorder treatment, smoking cessation services, women’s health services, and lead screening. Approximately 84% of adults reported they are satisfied with their healthcare, and 92% report they are satisfied with their child’s healthcare, according to the report.

Medicaid expansion was also not seen to increase costs like critics feared. New Jersey received additional federal funding, and was able to reduce the state’s share of the expenditures from 45% in 2014 to 39% in 2015.

The cost per enrollee was also seen to decrease 7.7% from 2014 to 2015, Governor Christie reported. Additionally, the departments of Health Services and Corrections enrolled eligible inmates in NJ FamilyCare prior to their release, and saved more than $15 million in 2015.

By expanding Medicaid, more New Jersey residents and their families were able to obtain health insurance and decrease costs for taxpayers.