By Andrea Vasquez
For 25 years, the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund has awarded more than $150 million to more than 6,500 New Jersey families to pay their children’s medical bills. The fund serves families with children who have serious conditions and illnesses that are not covered by insurance. And those bills can reach tens of thousands of dollars by the month.
“For parents who struggle to pay for a child’s out-of-pocket medical expenses, that effort can drain the energy that’s really needed to help the child,” said Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund Chair Janice Prontnicki.
The Relief Fund Commission is an independent agency within the New Jersey Department of Human Services. This year the commission gave nearly $8 million in grants to 448 families. One of those families was the Millers, whose son Evan’s medication costs nearly $40,000 each month.
“And the bills are coming, and the bills are coming, and the bills are coming. And then Amanda says, ‘You know, why don’t we try that catastrophic thing?’ I say, ‘Well, what else have we got to lose?’” Jonathan Miller, Evan’s father, explained.
The program’s funding comes from taxes on New Jersey businesses. And the commission expects that to total about $8.5 million next year.