TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to apply for federal Medicaid waivers to offset the cost of early intervention (EI) services for infants and toddlers was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“For children born with developmental disabilities, early intervention is their best shot to make necessary developmental progress and prepare them for daily life later on,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “EI has performed miracles for so many kids who might otherwise languish without a disciplined cognitive regimen. We must do whatever we can to ensure that parents of developmentally disabled children have access to these wonderful programs.”
The bill, S-223, would seek to maximize federal dollars under the New Jersey Medicaid program for early intervention services. The bill would require the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to apply to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a waiver for EI services for infants and toddlers that focus on habilitation, including training and activities intended to improve daily life skills.
Senator Karcher noted that the bill is even more necessary when considering that EI programs in New Jersey are currently experiencing a $12 million shortfall, which might increase the cost on families taking advantage of EI services being offered by the State.
“If we have the tools to help kids overcome even a portion of their disability, we need to make those tools available to everyone, regardless of family income,” said Senator Karcher. “This bill would leverage federal dollars, through an existing program in Medicaid, to offset any cost increases and keep EI affordable for everyone in the State. I look forward to swift approval, so that we can stabilize the cost of EI and continue the good work for children born with disabilities in New Jersey.”
The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration before going to the full Senate for approval.