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New Jersey to invest $634 million to enhance Medicaid services

Acting New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman has announced that the federal government has approved department plans to invest $634 million over the next three years to bolster efforts to strengthen and expand home and community-based Medicaid services for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

The plan will bring in $329 million in federal funding, for a total state and federal investment of $634 million in these programs, according to a press release.

The wide-ranging plan will use federal matching dollars through the American Rescue Plan to enhance, expand and strengthen home and community-based services under the state’s Medicaid program known as NJ FamilyCare, according to the press release.

“We are prioritizing independence, community options and person-centered care,” Adelman said. “Importantly, this plan was devised with significant public input gathered during group calls, a public listening session and emails. It was vital that we listen and take advantage of this opportunity to make New Jersey a stronger and more resilient place to live. This plan reflects that goal and we are thrilled by the approval.

“We are focusing on improving the quality of life of NJ FamilyCare members over the long term. In all, our intent is to enhance our existing home and community-based programs and to invest in new efforts while also addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Adelman said.

According to the press release, Department of Human Services personnel remain in discussion with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on more than $100 million in additional proposals, and remain optimistic these will be approved in the upcoming months.

Highlights of the approved initiatives include:

• Increasing the Personal Care Assistant rate to $23 per hour to help the workforce that cares for older adults in need of home care services;

• Increasing the Personal Preference Program rate to $19 per hour to help recipients who hire and manage someone to provide home care services;

• Increasing rates for support coordinators who work as case managers for Medicaid recipients with intellectual and developmental disabilities;

• Boosting rates for assisted living facilities, comprehensive care home and assisted living programs to strengthen these facilities;

• Rewarding with higher daily rates assisted living facilities, comprehensive care home and assisted living programs that take on a higher percentage of Medicaid beneficiaries;

• Creating incentives to help transition individuals from nursing homes to home and community-based settings;

• Creating incentives to recruit more and retain existing homecare workers;

• Helping traumatic brain injury care providers offset costs associated with COVID-19 health and safety protocols;

• Strengthening the educational and informational resources available to community members around the various home and community-based services available under NJ FamilyCare;

• NJ FamilyCare serves about two million residents. The program provides affordable health insurance to qualified New Jersey residents of any age;

• The proposal builds on the most recent state budget signed by Gov. Phil Murphy that also enhances services for older adults and individuals with disabilities;

• The budget increases prescription drug assistance for older adults, while also supporting efforts by communities across the state to become accessible and inclusive places to live at any age. It also maintains last year’s 10% Medicaid nursing facility rate increase;

• The budget builds on previous wage increases for direct support professionals who assist individuals with developmental disabilities, while also maintaining an increased daily rate for residential providers such as group homes and increasing rates for day habilitation, career planning, community inclusion services, group pre-vocational training, and group supported employment;

• The budget also includes $20 million to begin a Cover All Kids initiative in Medicaid, and to support Medicaid coverage of new mothers for 365 days postpartum.

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