Offering welcoming remarks at the New Jersey Foundation for Aging‚Äôs conference this year was Patricia Polansky, Assistant Commissioner from the Dept. of Health and Senior Services.¬† We were pleased to have Pat join us and kick off the day! Her remarks began with comments about the budget and fiscal concerns for the State. However, the Assistant Commissioner transitioned to big changes coming to NJ as a result of Healthcare reform. Ms. Polansky advised that as a result of President Obama signing into law the healthcare reform bill, also known as the Affordable Care Act, ‚Äú$60 million in grants are being made available for states to help individuals and their caregivers better understand and navigate their health and long-term care options‚Äù.¬† Adding, ‚Äúthe purpose of this grant program authorized by the Affordable Care Act is to create streamlined, coordinated statewide systems of information, counseling and access that will help people find consumer-friendly answers they seek to meet their health and long-term care needs‚Äù.
The Assistant Commissioner went on the describe what NJ is already doing, ‚ÄúNew Jersey has achieved excellent results in building on existing programs and implementing new approaches for supporting home and community based services‚Äù. Pat was referring to the Independence, Dignity and Choice in Long-Term Care Act, stating that, ‚Äúthe state‚Äôs long-term care funding structure is being adjusted to provide more options for older adults through budgetary rebalancing‚Äù. She followed up this statement by pointing out that there is a growing population of older and disabled persons who desire to stay at home with care rather than going into a nursing home, she stated that policy changes have been made to support that.
Pat added, ‚ÄúThe State‚Äôs effort to expand home and community based services options for individuals who qualify for Medicaid Institutional Care, started with consolidating 3 Medicaid Waiver Programs into a single line item now know as Global Options for Long-Term Care. Pat added, ‚Äúwe have seen an increase of 1,840 or 23% more participants served; yet well within the SFY 2010 budget‚Äù. ¬†She informed the crowd that GO serves 10,000 aging and disabled clients, but that is was actually a cost savings. ¬†She pointed out to the audience, ‚ÄúThe average Medicaid rate for a NJ nursing home is $63,541 per year, whereas the annual cost is $17,112 for the Medicaid Waiver, Global Options. Clearly this demonstrates a more cost-effective approach‚Äù.
The conference attendees were glad to have heard these valuable updates from the Assistant Commissioner. Many people came up to us during the day to say how wonderful it was to have the Assistant Commissioner share these details with the group.
We hope you have also found this synopsis of the remarks offered by the Assistant Commissioner helpful and informative, please stay tuned for more details and excerpts from the conference.