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N.J. health care coalition outlines state ACA enrollment goals

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Maura Collinsgru, health policy advocate with NJ Citizen Action, speaks at a press conference Wednesday at the Statehouse in Trenton.
Maura Collinsgru, health policy advocate with NJ Citizen Action, speaks at a press conference Wednesday at the Statehouse in Trenton. - (NJBIZ / Andrew George)

By the end of 2014, the NJ for Health Care Coalition hopes to see a total of 304,854 people enrolled in plans covered by the Affordable Care Act through NJ FamilyCare or the online marketplace.

Come 2016, the coalition wants to see that combined number reach over 500,000 enrollments.

These were just a few of the figures put forth Wednesday in a three-year plan by coalition members New Jersey Policy Perspective and New Jersey Citizen Action and supported by a number of grassroots campaigns across the state.

"The Affordable Care Act offers New Jersey an incredible opportunity to assist struggling uninsured working families obtain health insurance, which benefits everyone because it will improve the state's health and its economy," NJPP senior policy analyst Raymond Castro said. "But this is only an opportunity; if the state is not focused on reaching as many uninsured New Jerseyans as possible, it will not be realized."

But goals and projections are two different things. Coalition members claim that the state has not effectively or enthusiastically promoted ACA enrollment and thus, the responsibility falls on the grassroots effort to educate the public.

The plan, which was put out in cooperation with the Rutgers Center on State Health Policy, quantifies the total number of enrollments by the end of 2016 under the current "standard outreach" model to be 378,661 total, reflecting a difference of over 170,000 enrollments from the targeted goal of 548,783.

Maura Collinsgru, health policy advocate with NJCA, said it has been the efforts of health care professionals and community-based organizers and advocates that "make attaining these goals possible."

"We are fully committed to doing all we can to achieve these goals both this year and in the years ahead," Collinsgru said.

What doesn't help, coalition members claim, is that the state missed a deadline last month to submit a plan for $7.6 million in federal funding available to educate residents about ACA enrollment and subsequently lost the grant.

"It was a substantial loss…If we have to do it ourselves, that's what we're going to do," Castro said.

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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