TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice which would require the Department of Heath and Senior Services (DHSS) to relax the admissions criteria for a long-term care facility which serves those with AIDS, received final approval in the Assembly today.
“The urban community is quickly losing the battles against AIDS,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Modern medicine has been able to sustain the lives of those infected with AIDS, but many who have this disease are unable to take proper care of themselves. Those with other illnesses need special nursing care, but are denied because of strict admissions rules.”
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.
Senator Rice stated that, during the past 18 months, DHSS began denying admissions to Broadway House based on the patient’s ability to feed or dress himself.
Senator Rice also noted that, “these evaluations fail to address the complexity of the AIDS virus, and advanced AIDS patients cannot be adequately cared for in a traditional nursing home.”
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.
According to Senator Rice, the admissions policy would admit those who are newly diagnosed with HIV infection. The bill would also 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, added Senator Rice.
“The purpose of a specialized nursing facility is to offer care to those with AIDS, but when the criteria for admission is turning away those who 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 AIDS then we need to change the criteria to fill those beds with those in need of care.”
The bill now heads to the Governor’s office for enactment.