TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice which would require the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to establish a Medicaid admissions criteria for a long-term care facility that would serve those with HIV/AIDS, was approved in the Senate Heath, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“The AIDS virus is a deadly disease that is hitting the poor urban communities who are in the most need of special nursing care,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Medical professionals have found ways to sustain the lives of those infected with the HIV/AIDS virus with doctors check-ups and substantial doses of medications. Unfortunately, many people who have AIDS also have other illnesses that make it difficult to take proper care of themselves, and we need to ensure that nursing care is provided to those individuals.”
The bill, S-2106, would require the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to establish a special long-term care facility admission criteria for Medicaid-eligible people with HIV infections or AIDS, which would only serve persons with HIV or AIDS.
Senator Rice noted that the bill would revise the criteria to allow admission to HIV infected patients who have medical or social issues such as, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, asthma, hepatitis, substance abuse, mental illness or dementia. The Senator also stated that the admissions policy would permit people newly diagnosed with HIV infection.
“The purpose of a specialized nursing facility is to offer care to those with HIV/AIDS, but when the criteria for admission is turning away those that really do belong in these facilities, something needs to be done,” said Senator Rice. “What is so troubling about turning away a very sick person with AIDS is that he or she could cause more harm by spreading the disease on the streets. If there is room at a facility for those with HIV/AIDS then we need to change the criteria to fill those beds with those in need of care.”
Broadway House, located in Newark, is the only specialized nursing care facility in New Jersey that deals with the specific needs of people living with AIDS/HIV.
Senator Rice stated that, during the past 18 months, DHSS began denying admissions to Broadway House based on the patient’s ability to function well with Activities of Daily Living, such as being able to walk independently and to dress and bathe oneself. The Senator also noted that, “these evaluations fail to address the complexity of the AIDS virus, and advanced HIV/AIDS patients cannot be adequately cared for in a traditional nursing home.”