By Desirée Taylor
The Christie administration’s plan to reform Medicaid has been approved by the federal government. State officials say the reforms will help them meet their goal to deliver more effective services with a strong focus on transitioning from institutionalized settings to home and community-based care.
“Certainly we’ve heard people say they want to stay in their home and that’s what this waiver will allow us to do,” said Valerie Harr, New Jersey’s Medicaid director.
One part of the plan calls for moving long-term care, the biggest cost driver of Medicaid, into a managed care setting. Options include assisted living facilities, personal care attendant services and adult day care programs. State officials say the goal is not to clear out nursing homes. It’s to give the elderly more options. That’s also the goal of long-term care providers according to Douglas Struyk, the president and CEO of Christian Health Care Center. But with limited resources, he questions how the reforms will impact long term care providers.
“I think the most significant pocket book concern is what will be the role of managed care providers … They have an oversight role,” said Struyk. “We want to see how the resources are distributed among various needs.”
Another emphasis in the waiver involves increasing community based services for children who are dually diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mental illness by providing case managements, individual supports and respite for caregivers.
State officials say these and other reforms will save the state money and help sustain Medicaid. But they claim the changes won’t affect eligibility, add co-pays or lead to cuts in optional services.