Rice/Kean Offers A Proven Alternative To Needle Exchange Through His Residential Treatment Facilities Bill

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Thomas H. Kean Jr. to provide $100 million for residential regional long-term HIV/AIDS care facilities and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.

“I am excited by the news of the decreasing number of AIDS cases throughout New Jersey, because it proves that through education, testing and treatment we are making a difference,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “We don’t need a needle exchange program to fight AIDS– we need to provide additional funding for the educational programs and treatment facilities that are already working.”

Senator Rice stated that, “Broadway House in Newark is currently the State’s only specialized care facility that provides nursing care, social services, recreational programs and spiritual activities for people living with HIV/AIDS. With so many people suffering from HIV/AIDS, it is important to open more facilities like Broadway House throughout the entire State.”

“According to the state health department less than half of those seeking drug treatment in New Jersey are able to get it,” said Senator Kean. “That’s why New Jersey needs a comprehensive program like the one we have proposed in Senate bill 445. The state needs to offer real solutions for drug addicts including better access to treatment and long-term counseling programs.”

The bill, S-455, would establish regional long-term care facilities and outpatient substance abuse treatment program to meet the needs of people in New Jersey who are living with HIV/AIDS and a drug dependency. The bill would provide start-up funding for at least three long-term care facilities and three outpatient substance abuse treatment programs, with at least two each in the northern, central and southern areas of the State, respectively, that best meet the purposes of this bill. The bill would provide an appropriation of $10 million for start up funding.

According to Senator Rice, the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, would provide $10 million in start-up funding for at least one long-term care facility and one outpatient substance abuse treatment program in each of the three regions of New Jersey.

“The bill would provide $90 million for the ongoing State financial support of substance abuse treatment facilities,” added Senator Rice.

“The bill would solicit proposals from nonprofit agencies and organizations throughout the State with experience in the provision of long-term care or outpatient substance abuse treatment services to meet the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS,” said Senator Rice. “Nonprofit organizations who submit proposals must provide mental health and substance abuse treatment; nursing and dental care; physical and speech therapy; literacy and health classes and housekeeping services.”

The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.