NJACP Thanks Advocates

NJACP is appreciative of all member advocacy to move forward on issues impacting services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Thanks to all members for taking the time to advocate and sharing their agency’s experiences – this is a critical component of any advocacy success! Legislators want to hear from their constituents and must know that they care and are watching what happens with any particular issue. THANK YOU!

Member Advocacy

• JESPY House has a “banner week” with connections to legislators

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27) was invited to visit JESPY House to meet with Executive Director Audrey Winkler and the individuals JESPY House serves. The Assemblywoman, who serves on two education committees and the Aging and Senior Services Committee, brought a proclamation in honor of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month which is in March. Audrey reported the Assemblywoman spent quite a bit of time speaking with clients about their challenges, concerns and hopes, and dreams.

Then on Thursday, March 24, Assemblywomen Jasey honored JESPY’s board president for her dedication and commitment to people with IDD, at the statehouse, for Women’s History Month.

During the event at the Statehouse, JESPY’s board president was able to speak with Assemblywomen Angelica Jimenez (D-32), Chair of the Human Services Committee, and several committee members. They are interested in coming to visit JESPY and have a town hall-type meeting at SOPAC (our local arts center) to discuss challenges for people with IDD.

JESPY and Audrey had a great conversation with Governor Richard Codey (D-27) who has been an outspoken supporter of people with IDD and knows JESPY very well.

Thank you to Audrey and JESPY House who have taken the opportunity to develop relationships with their legislators. JESPY’s contacts elevate the issues impacting providers of services and supports and their impact on individuals. Site visits and meetings also provide an opportunity for legislators to meet individuals receiving services they might not otherwise have the chance the meet or be able to see community living and supports.

• Meeting with Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-7)

Thank you to Genie Drobit, President, and Elizabeth Drobit Blair, CEO, Quality Management Associates, along with NJACP CEO, Valerie Sellers and Director of Government Affairs Maureen Shea, who met with Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-7) who serves on the Assembly Budget Committee and is in a leadership role with the Democratic Majority as Majority Whip. Both Genie and Elizabeth have also built a relationship with the Assemblywoman through site visits, meetings and by attending fundraisers and events. Genie and Elizabeth discussed provider challenges and their agency’s experiences. Thank you Genie, Elizabeth and QMA for your continued advocacy.

• Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) Senate Minority Leader (aide was present for the meeting)

Assemblyman Harold Wirths (R-24) Assembly Budget Committee

Both lawmakers represent towns in Morris, Sussex and Warren

NJACP Immediate Past President Joanna Miller, Executive Director of Department for Persons with Disabilities (DPD), Catholic Charities, Diocese of Paterson, along with a Direct Support Professional (DSP) Vivian and Billy, an individual served by DPD met with Senator Oroho’s legislative aide and Assemblyman Wirths on March 16. Valerie Sellers, NJACP CEO, and Maureen Shea, Director of Government Affairs also attended.

Vivian focused on the challenges of sending a son to college on DSP wages while Billy greeted the lawmakers. Joanna said DPD’s most important asset is staff and about the impacts of the workforce shortage and inflationary increases on the agency and the people they serve. After the time Joanna has spent in the industry she “knows what it takes and it takes fair wages to recruit and retain a quality workforce.”

Valerie shared “It’s a new world out there and with 7% inflation and overtime costs and no ability to raise revenue to pay costs, a COLA is needed to assist with costs.” Further she commented, “While other industries are facing this crisis, DSP’s are responsible for people’s lives.”

The Assemblyman was supportive of maintaining funding in the budget for the DSP wage increase as well as the day program funding. He also indicated he “is supportive of fully funding programs that are working rather than create new programs’ and since services and supports are working he would conside r an inflationary increase.

Senator Oroho’s aide was supportive and asked several questions. NJACP will be conducting follow up.

• Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25) Assembly Budget Committee

The Assemblywoman represents towns in Morris and Somerset counties.

NJACP Vice President and Executive Director of Avidd Community Services, Terry McKeon, along with Valerie and Maureen met with Assemblywoman Dunn on March 16. Terry focused on significant overtime costs, already meeting budget costs that were meant the entire year. He advocated for a COLA, commenting without funding to address inflation costs there will be a huge gap in what can be accomplished as the COLA “helps to catch us up.”

Maureen requested the Assemblywoman provide a 15 second video for NJACP presentations and she was excited to commemorate the individuals achievements. Terry also took the opportunity to invite the Assemblywoman to attend the presentation for Avidd’s individual that is awarded this year’s NJACP Star award and offered to provide proclamations for the event to each award recipient.

The Assemblywoman has personal experience with the needs of individuals and asked several policy questions. NJACP will be following up with the Assemblywoman on the FY23 budget and other legislation.

• Senator Gordon Johnson (D-37) Senate Budget Committee

The Senator represents towns in Bergen County and served as an assemblyman from the district for over two decades before defeating Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle in the Democratic party to win the safe Senate Democratic seat.

Dr. John Winer, Executive Director of the Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities (J-ADD), attended with Valerie and Maureen. John discussed the broader issues but also focused on a home that is “around the corner” from the Senator’s home and was being renovated at last year’s NJACP budget meeting. He explained it is unable to open due to lack of staff and “with people in need, a home should never be empty.” The Senator acknowledged he knows the home and, after hearing more about the impact of the continuing workforce shortage suggested NJACP work with him on a larger DSP increase t bring wages closer to competitors. NJACP will follow up and keep members informed.

John also discussed “after all the years of work to get people services in the community, we must guard against going backward as programs and housing are consolidating.” Valerie discussed her efforts to move a bill that was approved and will provide educational opportunities and make the DSP position more attractive as a career path.

Please look for the details of meetings as the budget season progresses. Below are registration links for the Senate and Assembly budget hearings that were sent earlier to members via email.

NJACP Members Meet with Newly Elected Legislator from District 3 (first attached photo above)

• Thank you NJACP members Diane Hutton Rose, Executive Director of 21 Plus and Derry Holland, CEO of Oaks Integrated for meeting with Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer(R-3). The Assemblywoman represents the district formerly represented by Senate President Steve Sweeney.

• Discussion focused on opportunities for use of American Rescue Act dollars to combat current challenges with DSP shortages and proposed COLA funding in the upcoming state budget. Assemblywoman Sawyer was very responsive and supportive of including the requested funding asks and excited to hear about 21 Plus initiatives for individuals opportunity to work and exploring small business initiatives.

• NJACP thanks both Diane and Derry for taking the initiative to get to know their legislators as well as advocate on behalf of members. This is also posted on the NJACP Facebook page and will be posted on NJACP’s Twitter. Any member interested in meeting with their representatives or conducting a site visit please reach out to mshea@njacp.org.

Rescare/Brightspring

• Lisa Kubisiak, Executive Director of Rescare, Kevin Lundy, and Rescare’s Corporate Vice President of Government Relations had a 25-minute call with Kaylee McGuire, Governor Murphy’s Senior Policy Advisory in the health and human services areas, in support of NJACP’s ask to restore the 20% residential enhancement. Kevin Lundy provided the following about the meeting:

• We emphasized how appreciative our organization is for the strategic investments/enhancements/resources the state has provided to agencies during the pandemic. We offered that while the programs they created were meaningful/successful, their expiration has unfortunately exacerbated our workforce crisis since the beginning of the calendar year. We offered that a continuation/bridge of the enhancement would be powerful for our workforce and continuity of services.

• Kaylee was clearly versed on the issue and asked great questions and did some short top-level of other states. She invited us, and we offered, to stay in touch in the coming weeks on any updates (positive workforce promotion or concerns).

• NJACP thanks so much to both Lisa and Kevin for their advocacy, and is grateful.

21 Plus and Oaks Integrated Care

• The attached picture left to right Senate Republic Leader Senator Steven V. Oroho, DHR ED 21 Plus, Derry Holland Chief Executive Officer Oaks Integrated Care, and Assembly Republican Leader Assemblyman John DiMaio

• Diane Hutton Rose, Executive Director, 21 Plus, and Derry Holland, CEO, Oaks Integrated Care, attended the Chamber of Commerce Southern New jersey “Meet the Policymakers” event. Diane provided the following about the event. Both are NJACP Board of Directors members and identified as such at the event.

• We thanked the Senator who said he supports the Charitable giving tax because charities do the work more efficiently than government – I thanked him for recognizing nonprofits provide critical services in an effective an efficient manner. I also asked the Senator and Assemblyman if we can count on their support in ensuring the budget has monies from the American Rescue Act to fund our field in order to combat the Direct Support Professional labor shortage by attracting more people to our field. This is critical to providing quality services to people with intellectual and development disabilities our vulnerable citizens of New Jersey. They enthusiastically stated they agree and will support funding to support our current system by utilizing the yet unspent monies available through the American Rescue Act.

• Of the many legislators that attended the event Diane and Derry were able to connect with Senator Ed Durr and Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer from District 3 in Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland counties, Senator Jean Stanfield in District 8 in Burlington county, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Oroho, 24th District, Warren, Sussex and Morris and Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio, District 23 in Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties.Federal Issues Updates

President Biden Releases FY 2023 Budget Proposal

According to ANCOR, on Monday, March 28, President Biden released his Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal. The President’s budget proposal, which functions as a blueprint to signal the White House’s policy priorities, focuses on imposing new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and increasing defense and national security spending.

The White House requested $5.8 trillion in total and described the budget proposal as “reflect[ing] three important values: fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and abroad, and a commitment to building a better America. The budget will show how the strongest economic growth in nearly 40 years, powered by the American Rescue Plan, has put the deficit on track to drop by more than $1.3 trillion this year – the largest-ever one-year decline.”

The budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was boosted by 15% to $81.7 billion over a five-year period to bolster pandemic preparedness, including $28 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $12.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health. Also included in the White House’s proposal for HHS was a commitment to health equity, investments in mental health resources, and the creation of the Vaccines for Adults (VFA) program, a program to provide uninsured adults with access to all vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at no cost.

Noticeably absent in the President’s budget proposal was specific funding requests for the President’s Build Back Better proposal, nor does it include measures to offset the costs of any future Build Back Better legislation. The proposal also does not include the COVID-19 relief funding the White House has already requested from Congress, which Congress has yet to pass after that funding was removed from the Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus bill.

Senate Aging Committee Hearing Focuses on Importance of Increased Investments in Medicaid HCBS

Members who attended the NJACP Membership meeting were unable to view this HCBS hearing, you can view by clicking on the link provided by ANCOR.

On Wednesday, March 23, the Senate Committee on Aging held a hearing on home- and community-based services called “An Economy That Cares: The Importance of Home-Based Services.”

The hearing, led by committee chair Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), focused on the need for investment this year in the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program to avoid the economic repercussions resulting from the exodus of direct care workers from the workforce and family caregivers being forced to reduce hours or leave the workforce to care for family members. Senator Casey stressed that the temporary American Rescue Plan funds for the HCBS program were just the start and that Congress needs to make a “much greater investment . . . to bring relief to families.”

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also spoke during the hearing in favor of the need to invest in the HCBS program. Ranking member of the committee Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) provided an opening statement that stressed the need for more self-directed care. Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) questioned whether greater federal investments produce better outcomes. The panel of witnesses included: Brandon Kingsmore, Disability Advocate and Public Speaker, accompanied by Lynn Weidner, Home Care Worker, and SEIU Healthcare PA Member; Alene Shaheed, Home Care Recipient and former Florida Health Justice Project Client; Lisa Harootunian, Associate Director, Health Program, Bipartisan Policy Center; and Anne Tumlinson, CEO, ATI Advisory and Founder, Daughterhood.

ANCOR prepared for the hearing by submitting a written testimony and sending suggested hearing questions to the committee members. ANCOR’s statement was one of 335 statements submitted for the record in favor of increased investment in the HCBS program.

You can find ANCOR’s coverage of the hearing on ANCOR’s Twitter page, and you can watch a recording of the hearing on the committee website.

Research and Reports

A Case for Inclusion 2022

The Case for Inclusion 2022 offers new data assessing how well state programs are supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be included in the community, as well as policy analysis examining the impact of pandemic-era policies on the sustainability of community providers.

Federal Policy Priorities for the Direct Care Workforce

This PHI report offers an extensive and detailed set of federal policy recommendations to strengthen the direct care workforce across eight issue areas: financing, compensation, training, workforce interventions, data collection, direct care worker leadership, equity, and the public narrative. The report offers nearly 50 concrete recommendations for the White House, Congress, and key federal departments and agencies. It also includes recommendations for navigating and learning from COVID-19.

PHI Quality Care Through Quality Jobs

This report is the culmination of a year-long series of reports (released throughout 2020) providing a comprehensive, current-day analysis of the direct care workforce and its critical role in the long-term care system in the United States.

Direct Care Workers in the United States: Key Facts

This report provides detailed data on the direct care workforce—home care workers, residential care aides, and nursing assistants in nursing homes—including demographics, occupational roles, job quality challenges, and projected job openings.