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Did Jersey City Misuse Federal Health Care Funds?
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The Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association (JCPOBA) today questioned the use of more than $2.5 million in federal funds intended to reduce the cost of health care for early retirees. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services managed website, the funds, appropriated by The Affordable Care Act, ?provide financial assistance to employers unions and state and local governments to help them maintain coverage for early retires up to age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. Employers, unions and governments can use the savings to reduce their own health care costs, provide premium workers to their workers and families, or both.? However, an Open Public Records Act request shows funds awarded from this program were deposited into a miscellaneous revenue account ?to offset any revenue that projects to come in less than anticipated or any unanticipated appropriation in the CY2011 budget.?

?The Business Administrator Jack Kelly and Council President Peter Brennan are quick to kick the can down the road when it comes to dealing with the issues facing our City,? said Jerry DeCicco, President of the JCPOBA. ?Too many laborers approaching the end of their career were laid off due to circumstances beyond their control, and are concerned about keeping their families insured in the event of a medical crisis. These federal funds were meant to keep these men and women insured, not as a one-time budget gimmick for this Administration. Due to this City?s history of fiscal mismanagement, our union believes the residents of Jersey City would be best served by a public hearing on this matter, and I sincerely hope our City Council agrees.?

The JCPOBA has reviewed federal guidance documents (http://www.errp.gov/about_errp.shtml) on the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) and believes there are questions involving the proper use of these federal grant funds. A public hearing on the issue can better clarify for residents whether or not the Business Administrator Jack Kelly and Council President Peter Brennan aren?t administering these public funds in the proper and/or best possible way.

The ERRP intends to help reduce this burden and keep families insured during these tough economic times. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a grant recipient cannot use the funds as general revenue, but may use the funds:

(1) To reduce the sponsor?s health benefit premiums or health benefit costs,
(2) To reduce health benefit premium contributions, copayments, deductibles, coinsurance, or other out - of-pocket costs, or any combination of these costs, for plan participants, or
(3) to reduce any combination of the costs specified in (1) and (2).

To obtain additional information or source documents on this federal grant, please e-mail Jerry DeCicco at jcpoba200@aol.com.

Posted on: 2011/9/2 20:37
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