NJACP is your resource for State issues, legislation and regulation affecting providers and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
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Click on the bill update for a list of and the status of the legislation that NJACP is tracking.
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Reminder: Public Hearings Scheduled for the SFY 2018 Budget – Register Now
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee will be conducting their respective public hearings on the Fiscal Year 2018 State Budget. If you wish to register to testify click on the Senate or Assembly hearing in the link below.
Remember – you must register to provide testimony. Scheduling is first come first served, therefore, to schedule for the time most convenient for you, please do so as soon as possible.
Members are encouraged to either testify or submit budget testimony to the Legislative Budget and Finance Office, via email at email@example.com or via regular mail to State House Annex, PO Box 068, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0068. Registration is not required to submit written comments.
State FY 2018 Budget NJACP Testimony and Talking Points
NJACP members and others are encouraged to testify or submit testimony in support of Governor Christie’s proposed budget increase of $89.7 million for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and in support of increased wages for Direct Service Professionals (DSP’s). Please fee free to utilize the resources below in your testimony:
Department Budget Hearings
The Legislature has also released the date of each Department Budget hearing have also been scheduled. Typically, the Commissioner and senior staff of each department will testify to both the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees. Members may attend, however, public testimony is not taken at these hearings and registration is not required.
Please click here for all departments and revenue forecast hearings for the Senate
Senate hearings are held in Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ
- Department of Human Services/Medicaid – May 11th 10am
- Department of Children and Families – May 11th 2pm
- Department of Labor and Workforce Development – April 27th 10am
Please click here for all department and revenue forecast hearings for the Assembly
Assembly hearings are held in Committee Room 11, 4th Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ
- Department of Human Services/Medicaid – May 1 10am
- Department of Children and Families – April 19 2pm
- Department of Labor and Workforce Development – May 15th 1pm
If you are unable to attend the Department Budget meetings, visit the following website to listen http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/ and click on listen to live proceedings.
Gov. Christie’s Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 is Now Available Online
The proposed spending plan, which Christie unveiled last month, totals $35.5 billion and does not include many major changes.
The budget would grow state spending by 2.9 percent. Spending has increased about 20 percent since Christie took office seven years ago. The budget assumes strong revenue growth, at 3.6 percent, and leaves a thin reserve of less than $500 million.
The state’s fiscal year begins July 1.
View the budget book here here
NJ Legislature Holds First Hearing on SFY 2018 Budget
The New Jersey Assembly held the Legislature’s first hearing on the State Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Those testifying focused on issues such as healthcare, education, the pension system and social services and also discussed the impacts potential changes in federal policy could have in New Jersey. The need for an increase in Direct Service Professional Wages (DSP’s) wages was also discussed, however, ranking Republican Declan Oscanlon (R-12) conceded the budget “asks” were all important but issues like education and the pension system need to be resolved as well. For more information, please view the article below. NJACP’s CEO, Valerie Sellers, is scheduled to tesify next week and will also focus on DSP wages.
NJACP Member Comments Requested on HCBS STP Addendum
The Department of Human Services (DHS) released the Addendum to the Statewide Transition Plan implementing the federal Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Final Rule. Please click here for a summary of the key provisions contained in the plan.
NJACP CEO, Valerie Sellers, testified on the STP Addendum. Click here to view the testimony.
The comment period ends on August 31st and NJACP is seeking input from members who may have additional comments they would like included in NJACP’s comments. Please submit any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 20th.
- For additional information on New Jersey’s plan click here and to view what is contained in other states HCBS plans, please click here.
NJACP Submits Comments on the 1115 Comprehensive Waiver Renewal
In response to the Department of Human Services (DHS) request for stakeholder comments on the 1115 Comprehensive Waiver Demonstration, NJACP submitted the attached comments. NJACP comments focused on the following:
- While hopeful that the inclusion of the Community Care Waiver (CCW) in the 1115 Waiver will expand services and improve access for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD), it is not clear how including the CCW in the 1115 Waiver will streamline and improve access to services, as well as remove silos. These details should be made available.
- NJACP applauds and supports the development of a pilot program to address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and acute behavioral health needs. NJACP is hopeful there will be strong stakeholder input into the development of the program.
- NJACP is supportive of incorporating the “Housing First” model to address the need for housing, as a necessary component of providing services and supports. NJACP recommends that the housing process associated with Fee for Service is transparent for people receiving, and providers delivering services. It is critical the system remain flexible to allow for creative solutions.
- NJACP recommends the state include as many housing services as possible in each waiver to maximize the resources available from the federal government for housing.
- NJACP supports the collection and accessibility of data related to the success of the waivers.
- It is proposed that court ordered guardians receive a fee from an individual’s personal allowance. NJACP recommends clarification that such guardians are not already receiving funds from the state and considering that the personal allowance is small and taking away from the already limited funds of an individual is inappropriate.
- NJACP applauds the creation of a Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program. The care individuals with IDD receive in a hospital should be tracked, for example, readmission, as most hospitals do not code individuals with IDD. Providing funding to hospitals is commendable but it begs the question of its benefit not just to individuals with behavioral health issues but also individuals with IDD.
Please click here for the full text of NJACP’s comments.
NJACP’s CEO Testifies Regarding the State Transition Plan
Valerie Sellers provided testimony at the August 11 “Listening Session” held by the Division of Developmental Disabilities, click here for details. While acknowledging removal of percentages and/or time that must be spent in the community, Ms. Sellers touched on the administrative burden of the paperwork that is required resulting in less time available to spend with the individuals being served. Clarification regarding who will be reviewing the Monitoring Tool and ensuring the “reviewer” has personal knowledge of the individual receiving services. Removal of the 25% restriction associated with the Density Review process was also recommended.
Community Health Law Project Announces It Will Be Accepting New Clients Under a Contract with the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD)
The Law Project is very pleased that once again its attorneys and advocates can provide legal and advocacy assistance to individuals and families in the community who are receiving services from the Division of Developmental Disabilities.
The Law Project has provided representation to residents of New Jersey for forty years through its five regional offices and four satellite offices. Attorneys and advocates will provide representation and brief service in many civil law issues and in entitlement cases.
Assistance will be available in areas including:
- Housing advocacy such as landlord-tenant disputes
- Public entitlements, including eligibility for SSI, SSDI, public assistance, and food stamps
- Medicaid, Medicare, and other healthcare issues such as managed care disputes
- Child support, visitation, domestic violence
- Barrier-free accessibility, American with Disabilities Act and New Jersey Law Against Discrimination matters
- Surrogate decision making issues including wills, living wills, advance directives, powers of attorney, and uncontested guardianships (also limited guardianship and conservatorship)
Please see the CHLP web site at http://www.chlp.org for further information about the Law Project.
The Community Health Law Project is a private not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing legal and advocacy services, training, education, and related activities to persons living with disabilities and the frail elderly, emphasizing those more vulnerable and needy.
FAQ Available from August 8 Conference Call with Assistant Commissioner
As I heard from many of you, there was some concern with the conference call yesterday and the lack of substantive information including the “yes,” “no,” and “good” answers, among some other responses. More specific concerns regarding some of the responses were also shared and more detailed information will be solicited from the Assistant Commissioner and shared with the provider community. As this was the first attempt to give providers an opportunity to ask questions and receive responses directly from DDD, there is always an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. In the future, providers will receive the questions that were submitted to DDD in advance of the call, everything submitted will be in the form of a question and if additional information is required to respond to a question, then hopefully there will be sufficient time to gather that information before the conference call. Note that there are several questions where follow up is required and when information becomes available, it will be shared with all members of the three provider associations.
A summary of the responses to the specific questions is included for your information, click here for details. Because the call was recorded, we are working with the company that facilitated the conference call to determine how the recording can be accessed. If there are questions or concerns, please contact Valerie Sellers at email@example.com.
NJACP Asked to Participate in Senator Sweeney Press Conference
Senator Steve Sweeney (D-3) asked NJACP to participate in a press conference aimed at Governor Christie’s line item vetoes of measures supporting social services in the State Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The Governor’s vetoes included $20 million allocated to providers to make payments to Direct Service Professionals (DSP’s). The Senator championed the inclusion of the increases in the budget and commented “There’s certain things government really should be responsible for. And that’s looking out for people that can’t look out for themselves, and that’s taking care of seniors and the working poor.”
NJACP appreciates the Senator’s efforts and his comments that he will continue to “fight” for these issues.
To read more about the press conference, please click here.
Senate Holds Voting Session
On August 1, 2016 the Senate, facing a deadline to pass a resolution that would place a question on the ballot this November to amend New Jersey’s Constitution requiring quarterly payments to the public employee pension fund, held a voting session. Senate President, Steve Sweeney (D-3), is championing the resolution but will not post it until the Legislature and the Governor agree on a way to fund the broke Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). The amendment was not posted for a vote yesterday in the Senate because there was no agreement on a TTF funding fix, therefore, the Senate will convene on August 8th to possibly post the resolution on the pension fund. The amendment would need to pass the Senate on this date in order to be eligible for the November ballot. NJACP has voiced its serious concern about the amendment to the Legislature, but it is a priority for the Democratic majority.
Amid all the excitement at the unusual August voting session, the Senate passed a NJACP supported bill, S-1359. The bill, sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco (R-25), guarantees full and equal access to all housing to disabled persons who retain their retired service or guide dog as a pet, and who also obtain a new service or guide dog. An Assembly version of the bill has not yet been introduced. At this time there are no bills of interest to NJACP posted for the August 8th session, however, NJACP continues to monitor the Legislative calendar.
Housing Advocates Ask Supreme Court to Review “Gap” Period Ruling
As reported in the July 12th NJACP E-News, an appeals court ruled that municipalities are not constitutionally mandated to address a housing “gap period” that lasted for 15 years when the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) failed to enforce housing municipal obligations from 1999-2015. Tens of thousands of affordable housing units could be at stake in this request for appeal, which comes after the state’s highest court ruled last year that affordable housing decision-making powers would shift from the COAH to Superior Court judges. COAH was the agency tasked with implementing the Mount Laurel doctrine, which is meant to ensure that low- and moderate-income households have a reasonable opportunity to live in every New Jersey municipality.
The Fair Share Housing Center, a nonprofit that advocates for affordable housing, filed an emergency application for the Supreme Court to consider a stay of the appellate decision. The center filed a request at the appellate level last Friday, but it was denied. As this decision impacts the number of affordable units built in New Jersey, NJACP will continue to keep members informed about the status of the ruling and any appeals.
Tier Request Form to be Replaced by Auto-Generated Tier Assignment Letters
Effective September 1, 2016, the Division will disseminate an auto-generated tier assignment letter upon completion of the NJ CAT (NJ Comprehensive Assessment Tool), and therefore will eliminate the Request for Tier Assignment process established in June 2015. Mailing of tier assignment letters to individuals who have already completed the NJ CAT is expected to begin August 2016.
The tier assignment is based on the NJ CAT self-care, behavior, and medical scores. An individual budget amount that corresponds to the individual’s tier assignment becomes effective only when:
- An individual enrolls in the Fee-for-Service Supports Program
- An individual already enrolled on the Community Care Waiver (CCW) shifts into the Fee-for-Service system
Until an individual is enrolled or transitioned by the Division into the new Fee-for-Service system, the tier and the corresponding budget amount are not in effect.
Information about tiering and acuity is available in Section 3.4 of the Supports Program Policies and Procedures Manual. Information about individual budgets is available in the Fee-for-Service Individual Budgets: Quick Reference Guide.
Ciattarelli to Announce Whether He Plans to Run for Governor in September
Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) plans to make an announcement about whether he’ll run for Governor in September. He is strongly “leaning” toward running, as has been rumored for months.
“I feel very strongly about pointing New Jersey in a different direction – the right direction. And it’s easier to do that from a position of real influence. So there’s a gubernatorial election next year and it presents an opportunity,” Ciattarelli said. “At the very least, I hope to change the tenor of the debate and make whoever it is I’m competing with in the primary or general election a better candidate.”
The Assemblyman attended and spoke at both NJACP’s Legislative Breakfast in March and Stars event in May.
NJ Labor Commissioner Stepping Down
Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday that labor commissioner Harold J. Wirths is stepping down next month and could serve on the state parole board.
Christie said in a statement that he will nominate Wirths, one of his longest serving cabinet members, to the parole board. He said Wirths demonstrated leadership during the economic recession, and managed to help restore the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
“I am grateful for the dedication and strong sense of public service Hal has brought to my administration,” Christie said. “Now, as Hal leaves, our Trust Fund is fully solvent, more than 258,000 private sector jobs have been added and the unemployment rate has been cut by more than half.”
Rutgers Pilot Could Signal a Move Toward Telemedicine
A Rutgers Pilot program could signal a move toward telemedicine for New Jersey. The issue has been debated in committee in the Legislature and various interests have been unable to agree on parameters moving forward. However, many other states have already taken this step and a new Rutgers pilot program may provide a frame of reference for a program in New Jersey. Senator Joe Vitale (D-19), Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services committee reports he is considering holding additional hearings on the issue to determine which providers can participate and how they can be paid.
Rutgers Center for State Health Policy Releases Evaluation of NJ’s 1115 Waiver
The Rutgers Center for State Health Policy’s Draft Interim Evaluation of NJ’s 1115 Waiver is now posted on the DHS website: http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dmahs/home/Medicaid_Waiver_Interim_Evaluation.pdf
Affordable Housing Ruling May Impact Number of Units Built in NJ
The Mount Laurel doctrine, which has long been a source of is meant to ensure that low- and moderate-income households have a reasonable opportunity to live in every New Jersey municipality. Until the most recent decision, the courts, which are now responsible for enforcing municipal fair share obligations under the Mount Laurel Doctrine, have determined that municipalities, when calculating their fair share obligations, must account for the 15 year “gap” period between 1999-2015 when there was a lack of affordable housing built in New Jersey. However, in the most recent case, a panel of three judges in the appellate division of the state Superior Court ruled municipalities are not required to address the 15 year gap period. This could put thousands of affordable housing units in jeopardy of not being built.
Towns and cities, along with the League of Municipalities, celebrated the decision and opposed the initial rulings that the “gap” period must be a part of fair share housing obligations under the Mount Laurel decision. A report commissioned by the Fair Share Housing Center found a statewide affordable housing need of more than 200,000 homes by 2025, about 60 percent of which are from the gap period. But the League of Municipalities report, released by Econsult Solutions, said at the time of the initial ruling that New Jersey needed to provide fewer than 37,000 homes. Enconsult subsequently revised its assessment upward to 72,000 homes to account for the gap period.
The decision was disappointing to affordable housing advocates. The Supportive Housing Association (SHA), which NJACP is a member, has voiced continued concern that municipalities are using various arguments to lower their overall housing obligation at a time when people of very low, low and moderate incomes need safe and decent places to live. Kevin Walsh, executive director for the Fair Share Housing Center, pointed to parts of the decision that suggest the obligation from this 15-year period is not entirely erased in his public statement. For example, the decision held that the court “does not ignore housing needs that arose in the gap period or a municipality’s obligation to otherwise satisfy its constitutional fair share obligations.” The League believes the decision is clear cut and as a result, municipalities can disregard past affordable housing obligations in their fair share calculations.
The three judge panel remanded the case back to the trial courts for reconsideration. The case could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, or heard in trial courts across the state. The interpretation of this ruling will likely have a far-reaching impact as towns across the state are submitting affordable housing plans to Superior Court judges.
Kevin Walsh also said in his statement that by reversing the decision, “the court today deviated from the course New Jersey has set for decades on how this need should be measured.” Walsh said “the ruling will result in further delays for thousands of families who deserve to live in safe communities with access to good jobs and schools.” NJACP was also disappointed by the decision given that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities rely on affordable housing for a safe place to live in the community. NJACP will keep members informed of any new developments.
Please click here to view the decision and below for more information:
Valerie Sellers Shares Response to Audit Report with Sue Livio of the STAR LEDGER
There is no question that every individual living within the community should receive the best and most appropriate care possible. There are thousands of individuals living within group homes and other supported settings that are, in fact, living safe and fulfilling lives. Poor quality of care is not defensible and lessons will be learned from the auditor’s findings. However, there are circumstances that are often simply beyond the control of providers. For example, agencies are at the mercy of their managed care organizations (MCOs) for the repair or replacement of durable medical equipment, such as a wheelchair. Also, delays in the placement of individuals are often not within control of an agency but rather the control rests with the Developmental Center as to when a client will be released to live within the community. Having said this, pointing fingers serves no useful purpose. The focus must continue to be on providing the best quality of care to all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities living within our communities as well as those that will eventually reside in communities throughout New Jersey; it should not be on keeping people within Developmental Centers. The findings of this report will help focus on the continued need for the recruitment, training and retention of qualified and committed staff, however, it should not ignore or dismiss the work of thousands of direct support professionals who provide quality care that allows the individuals they serve to live within our communities and as our neighbors.
Read Susan Livio’s Article: Audit: Move to group homes caused problems for some disabled people in N.J.
SFY 2017 Budget Update
It is expected that Governor Christie will sign the State Fiscal Year 2017 budget before July 1st. In the budget bill that reached his desk the Legislature included a $20 million appropriation for all community providers to make payments to direct care workers. Governor Christie has the power to veto the appropriation. NJACP members have been responding to a call for action and reaching out to the Governor’s Office to ask for his support to keep the $20 million item in the budget. However, the Governor’s office has not indicated if the provision will remain in the bill. We continue to work toward that goal.
No matter the outcome, NJACP would like to extend a THANK YOU to all of those who participated in the call for action. There was an extraordinary response and outreach to the Governor’s Office by members, indviduals and families. Every single call counts and influences the process. Again, your efforts are greatly appreciated and NJACP will keep members updated.
Legislature Releases Budget Bill with Funding for Direct Care Workers
The New Jersey Legislature released A-4000/S-17, the budget bill the Legislature is proposing for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2017. There are several changes from Governor Christie’s proposed budget, including a $20 million increase for community providers to be distributed to direct care workers. To view the language change, click on the link below and go to pages 34 and 35 and to view the appropriation click on the attached document.
While a positive development, the distribution will be provided to all community providers, not just providers of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. NJACP thanked both leadership in both houses and was told that providing an appropriation for direct care workers was a priority, despite the tight fiscal environment.
The $34.8 billion budget package approved by the Assembly Budget Committee is slightly higher than Governor Christie’s budget, which was $34.5 billion. The Senate Budget Committee is also scheduled to consider the bill today.
NJACP will advocate, along with ABCD and The Arc, with the Governor’s Office to keep the distribution in the budget. The bill must also first pass the Legislature, which is likely given it was drafted by the Democratic Majority. NJACP will keep members updated.
DDD Announces a Change in the Process for Major Maintenance Funding