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NJ Lawmakers Seek to Prevent Co-Payments for Some HIV/AIDS Patients Under Corzine's Budget

Star Ledger
John Reitmeyer/Statehouse Bureau
Tuesday April 21, 2009

Lawmakers suggested today they are exploring ways to head off a provision of Gov. Jon Corzine's proposed budget that would establish co-payments for some AIDS/HIV patients who get their medications through the state.

The governor's $29.8 billion spending plan for the new budget year counts on taking in $1.36 million by requiring co-payments on a sliding scale based on income for AIDS/HIV drugs.

The co-payments were among the many issues discussed this morning when Heather Howard, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Senior Services, appeared before the Assembly Budget Committee to review her agency's spending plan and policies.

Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union) asked Howard if a $1.36 million cut somewhere else would be enough to cancel the new co-payments.

"To offset, correct," she said.

"I do find that to be critically important, something we'll have to put back," said Cryan, who is also the chairman of the state Democratic Party. All 80 seats in the Assembly are up for reelection in November, as is Corzine.

Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), suggested state funding for a transportation program benefiting AIDS/HIV patients could be pulled instead to keep the proposed co-payments from making it into the final budget.

"We're happy to talk about anything," Howard said.

Greenwald, Burzichelli, Albano & Milam: Poll Shows New Jersey Should Take Sports Gaming Bet

(TRENTON) – Four Assembly Democratic lawmakers who have long advocated for legalizing sports wagering at Atlantic City casinos today said a new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released this morning strengthens the argument that New Jersey should seek to overturn a federal ban and allow resort gamblers to bet on pro-sporting events.

Assemblymen Louis Greenwald, John Burzichelli, Nelson Albano and Matt Milam have led efforts to pass legislation that would put the issue before voters as a General Election ballot question. Their measure (A-1909) overwhelmingly passed the Assembly in February 2008.

The poll found 63 percent of voters favor making sports-betting legal in New Jersey at Atlantic City casinos, while 32 percent oppose it.

“Sports betting already exists in New Jersey through countless office pools and illegal book-making operations,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “This poll proves it’s far past time for us to take the blinders off and recognize that its in the state’s best interests to allow sports gaming in Atlantic City’s controlled and regulated atmosphere.”

Greenwald Praises Corzine Announcement of FamilyCare 'Express Lane'

(VOORHEES)—Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s announcement of the new FamilyCare “Express Lane” application option:

“The global economic crisis has left many New Jersey families struggling to afford health insurance and other basic necessities.

“A recent statewide study found one in three non-elderly New Jerseyans were uninsured at some point in the last two years.

“More alarmingly, the vast majority are New Jersey children who are eligible for FamilyCare and other health benefits are not enrolled.

“Clearly, we must work to increase public awareness of these programs and to streamline red tape in the enrollment process. I sponsored last year’s law to mandate health coverage for all children and to identify using state income tax returns eligible yet unenrolled children and families. This law is a critical step toward ensuring no New Jersey child is forced to go without health insurance.

“I applaud Gov. Corzine’s announcement today. Nothing is more important than ensuring New Jersey’s children have the opportunity to grow up healthy and safe, and this announcement is a step in the right direction.

Greenwald Opening Remarks from Today's Budget Committee Hearing

Following are Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald’s (D-Camden) opening remarks as prepared for today’s meeting of the Assembly Budget Committee:

Good afternoon.

Even before Governor Corzine introduced his proposed Fiscal Year 2010 state budget, we knew this year was going to be like no other.

Our nation’s economy is in the depths of recession rivaled only by the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Revenues are down across the board, affecting private businesses and government alike.

Without the fiscal discipline we showed last year in enacting the largest spending cut in state history – a record I am certain will fall this year – and our efforts over the past six months to strengthen and reposition our economy, New Jersey surely would find itself facing an almost insurmountable fiscal challenge.

In this time of unprecedented economic peril, Governor Corzine has proposed a budget that balances the need for deep cuts with the need to invest in our core values and services – creating jobs, expanding health care access, investing in our kids’ educations and safeguarding the public.

Unfortunately from the moment the Governor proposed this budget, the perennial critics began their assault.

He cut too much.

He cut too little.

He proposed too many taxes.

He didn’t propose enough taxes.

Much of the criticism has been the same tired refrain we hear year after year.

But some of the criticism actually surprised me and I wanted to take a few moments to address some of it.

Greenwald, Schaer, Pou Pledge Final State Budget Will Reflect, Protect New Jersey's Core Values

(TRENTON) – The leaders of the Assembly Budget Committee today said the panel’s work to craft the Fiscal Year 2010 state budget will center on ensuring that the state’s priorities reflect and protect New Jersey’s core values.

Chairman Louis Greenwald, Vice Chairman Gary Schaer and Assemblywoman Nellie Pou – chairwoman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee – all praised the budget framework laid-out by Governor Jon Corzine for its focus on protecting public safety, investing in public schools and ensuring that working families, seniors and the disabled will be able to survive the current recession.

“This budget must seal the cracks created by the global economic earthquake to ensure no working family, senior citizen or child falls through,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “Even with limited resources and in the face of historic spending cuts, we will invest in the core values shared by all New Jerseyans – creating jobs, expanding health care access, investing in our kids’ educations and safeguarding the public.”

“We have a unique opportunity to complement President Obama’s stimulus efforts by making New Jersey leaner and well-positioned for growth once the economy turns around, which it will,” said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen/Essex). “Emphasizing children’s health care and putting hundreds of millions more dollars in classrooms across New Jersey make it clear that we are investing not just for today, but with an eye on the security of future generations.”