Reporting Christine Sloan
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TRENTON, N.J. (CBS 2) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be unveiling his budget next week.
He’s been traveling around the country, and from what he’s been saying, it seems inevitable that he plans on making cuts in Medicaid, the program that helps the poor get medical services, reports CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.
Seven-year-old Justin Faulkner is in a Jersey City clinic because of a broken toe, but the service his mother really relies on – speech therapy – is paid for by Medicaid.
“They teach me how to do stuff,” Justin said.
His speech therapy is one of the optional Medicaid programs that could be on the chopping block if Governor Christie makes cuts in Medicaid. Justin’s mother, who lost her job, is worried.
“It would hurt him in the future,” Jersey City resident Venora Faulkner said. “He wouldn’t be able to complete himself, because I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”
Governor Christie said the state is facing an $11 million budget deficit. He said he can’t spend more money, and he’s not raising taxes.
“We have to fix Medicaid because it’s not only bankrupting the federal government, it’s bankrupting every state government,” Christie said.
Other states have cut optional Medicaid programs like prescription drugs, eyeglasses, and chiropractic and dental services. Some in New Jersey say they understand the need for the cuts. “I think this whole thing is a disgrace,” one New Jersey resident said. “I think if we don’t get this under control, this country will not be what we know.”
Others, though, don’t know how they’ll pay for their prescriptions without Medicaid.
The director of the Jersey City clinic where Justin was treated said they’re also facing cuts in federal funding, and if the state does the same, they would have to lay off workers and cut services to the poor.
“If our centers shut down and they hold back on services, the only alternative would be the emergency room, which is about 200 or 300 percent above our cost,” the clinic director said. “At the end of the day, hospitals will continue to close.”
The reality, she said, is that patients who rely on Medicaid will truly have nowhere to go.
Governor Christie is expected to unveil his budget on Tuesday. A spokesperson said the administration won’t release any information on any kind of cuts until then.
New Jersey expects to spend more than $4 billion on Medicaid this fiscal year.