Committee considers Peterson legislation protecting taxpayer funds for health care

Committee considers Peterson legislation protecting taxpayer funds for health care

Erik Peterson

TRENTON, N.J. – An Assembly committee on Thursday will take up a bill addressing the limited public funds dedicated to counties for Covid-19 testing and treatment, and the soaring enrollment in Medicaid as people lost their employer-sponsored health insurance during the pandemic. 

The bill (A2017), sponsored by Assemblyman Erik Peterson, allows counties to access state data to determine if an individual has insurance and then bill that carrier for Covid-related health expenses. 

“We have to look after what limited funds we have in order to protect New Jerseyans who are truly uninsured and find themselves needing medical care,” said Peterson (R-Hunterdon). “What was supposed to be a two week sacrifice to slow the spread of the virus turned into years under Gov. Phil Murphy. During that time, there’s been a 27% increase in Medicaid enrollment.”

From February 2020 to May 2022, enrollment in Medicaid in New Jersey increased by 395,000 people to 1.86 million. That mirrors national Medicaid numbers, which grew by 28% to 17.9 million enrollees. The increases reflect economic and policy changes, including the temporary continuous enrollment requirement, which prevented coverage loss during the public health emergency.

“It’s our fiduciary duty to ensure that patients don’t have additional insurance that could pay Covid claims so that we can preserve taxpayer-supported services,” Peterson added.

Under the bill, a county would work with the Medicaid fraud division in the Office of the State Comptroller to submit coronavirus-related claims to an individual’s insurance carrier retroactively to the governor’s first Covid-19 state of emergency declaration on March 9, 2020.