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Life in the Fast Lane: Express Lane Eligibility Mary E. Coogan Association for Children of New Jersey

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Presentation on theme: "Life in the Fast Lane: Express Lane Eligibility Mary E. Coogan Association for Children of New Jersey"— Presentation transcript:

1 Life in the Fast Lane: Express Lane Eligibility Mary E. Coogan Association for Children of New Jersey

2 Elements of NJ Express Lane Application Enrollment Process State Commitment NJ Tax Form Question Privacy Rules and Data Sharing Community Stakeholder Involvement Timing of Mailing Community Outreach Processing Applications

3 State Commitment Support key to effort –Key members of the Legislature support FamilyCare –Governor publically committed to enrollment –Commissioner of NJ DHS committed and knowledgeable Access to needed staff Departments/divisions more inclined to work collaboratively NJ Health Improvement Act of 2008 –Authorized question on state tax return –Authorized sharing of information –Established Outreach, Enrollment and Retention Working Group Commissioners from all relevant departments Six public members Report to the Legislature

4 NJ Tax Form Question Inserting question on tax return can be time-consuming process –Division of Taxation needs to agree –Wording needs to fit in limited space –Deadlines for finalizing forms and printing 2008 return question apparently too vague 2009 question seeks to clarify

5 Privacy Issues and Data Sharing Legislative authorization was not sufficient Still needed to obtain consent for Division of Taxation to share income information to determine eligibility Express Lane Application provided the social security number that was required to access the income information on tax return Different departments have different data system

6 Community Stakeholder Involvement Identified and met with community stakeholders through Working Group Asked the stakeholders to: –Indentify local and popular media outlets –Identify faith-based organizations –Distribute flyers for regional mailings –Inform families Community stakeholders overwhelmed to requests for assistance and in need of grant aid

7 Timing of Mailing Coordination of logistics delayed mailing in NJ 5% test mailing went statewide in May Regional mailings started in June Positive aspects of regional mailings –Helped increase publicity in local newspapers –Outreach efforts expanded with each mailing Zip code sort last for mailing caused more targeted outreach –Helped to build momentum –Prevents delay in processing of application

8 Timing of Mailing Negative aspects on regional mailings –Mailing dates were estimated –Access to certain outlets for help with outreach like schools is time-sensitive –Income information becomes outdated –Can have negative impact on taxpayer response to outreach as more time passes from when tax return actually filed Filers dont remember their response to question

9 Community Outreach Statewide –League of Municipalities –Council of Mayors –NJ Catholic Conference –PTAs –Legal Services Organization –State Grantees that work with families

10 Community Outreach Local –ACNJ broadcast to our network –Community organizations identified by work group –Schools Flyers Website announcements s to parents –Child care community

11 Processing of Applications NJ FamilyCare includes Medicaid State vender processes CHIP –Can track application Local boards of social services process Medicaid –Severe backlogs in some locations –Recession caused staff overload in processing applications for all benefits – 50% increase in some parts of state –No money available to hire additional staff –State cannot track applications All Express Lane Applications were process by state vender and child deemed eligible for one year Vender responded to questions ACNJ created address for questions

12 Lessons Learned Express Lane applications are one tool to increase enrollment Need to ask right question on tax form Timing is important Project needs support –Federal –Collaboration between state agencies –Collaboration between state and community –Data and Privacy issues need to be addressed

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