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Sweeney Bill to Expand Eligibility to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant Advances

Trenton – In an effort to expand the ranks of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that would establish a program to enable family members and others to train as CNAs and provide private duty nursing services to NJ FamilyCare or Medicaid enrollees under age 21.


“While we continue to recuperate from the losses felt early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes nationwide are still struggling to bolster an overstretched direct-care workforce that helps more than one million facility residents nationwide,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Our nursing home population is one of the state’s most vulnerable, and it is imperative that we do everything we can to ensure they are receiving the attention and care they deserve. By establishing this program, we will be able to expand who can become a CNA, fill staffing gaps and care for everyone in the way they deserve to be cared for.”


The bill, S-3847 would require the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS) to establish a program to allow a family member of an enrollee in Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare, or a third-party individual approved by the enrollee’s parent or guardian, to become qualified as a CNA. They would be able to provide CNA services to the enrollee through a private duty nursing agency, under the direction of a registered nurse. Specifically, an individual who becomes a CNA under the program would be reimbursed at a rate of at least $30 per hour.


Under the bill, the program would only apply to enrollees who are under 21 years of age and qualify for private duty nursing services under Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare. The DMAHS would be required to develop an assessment tool that would readily identify enrollees who meet the criteria for eligibility.


In order to become a certified CNA, family members or approved third-party individuals would be required to complete all of the training, testing, and other qualification criteria that are required under state and federal law for certification as a CNA.


The bill was released by a vote of 11-1.