Families with 'catastrophically' sick kids share $2.3M in state aid

Source: NJ.com Health
After a Bergen County mother delivered triplets, the insurance company delivered bad news: one of their doctors was outside the family’s insurance network. The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, supported by a surcharge on employers, helped pay off that family’s debt.
They were one of 120 families who received $2.3 million from the Fund since July to help cover expenses insurance won’t bear. “For families that have a child with a catastrophic illness, the cost for medical care can quickly exceed their income and deplete their savings,” Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno said during a statehouse press conference. “The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund can lend a hand when a family has run out of all other options.”
The fund has distributed more than $171 million in grants to 8,429 families since its inception in 1988. In the last fiscal year, 369 families shared $7 million in grants. In the first six months of this fiscal year, 119 families have shared $3.2 million. Recipients have included a Middlesex County woman whose follow-up doctor and prescription drug bills were only partially covered following a liver transplant, and a wheelchair ramp and handicapped-accessible bathroom for a Gloucester County woman diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe type of intractable epilepsy.
Families are eligible for assistance if they have lived in the state for at least three months before applying. Expenses are considered eligible if they exceeded 10 percent of the family’s income, plus 15 percent of any excess income over $100,000. The child must have been 21 years old or younger when the expenses were incurred. Money for the fund comes from employers who are subject to the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law. Employers pay an annual $1.50 fee per employee.
“The fund exists to provide financial relief for families facing devastatingly high uncovered medical expenses for their children regardless of their income,” said Janice Prontnicki, who chairs the fund’s commission. “We hope that today’s event will make more families aware that they may be eligible for help from the Fund to assist with costs related to their child’s necessary medical treatment, equipment and other expenses.”
For more information about The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, visit the program’s website or call 1-800-335-FUND (3863).

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