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Weinberg’s ‘Independence, Choice And Dignity In Long-Term Care Act’ Clears Senate Committee

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg that would help give elderly and disabled New Jerseyans receiving Medicaid assistance the option of receiving government aid for long-term health care while living in the comfort of their own homes was unanimously approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

“All too often, elderly and disabled persons are forced into nursing homes, when in reality, the issues they are dealing with can be taken care of at home with a little TLC,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “This measure would give them the option of receiving care in the privacy and comfort of their own homes.”

Senator Weinberg’s bill, S-1642, known as the “Independence, Choice and Dignity in Long-Term Care Act,” would establish pilot programs in Atlantic and Warren counties to allocate Medicaid funding for home and community health care programs, beginning in January of 2007. The funding models of the pilot programs would be assessed to evaluate their feasibility on a Statewide level. After one year, the pilot programs would be expanded to include all 21 counties.

The program would be monitored by a 13-member Medicaid Long-Term Care Funding Advisory Council, and in order to expand Statewide, the program would need approval from the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services.

The Advisory Council would include members of the AARP, the Association of Area Agencies on Aging, a county Office for the Disabled, the Health Care Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Hospital Association, the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, the New Jersey Elder Rights Coalition, a labor union representing home and community-based health care workers and owners of agencies providing home and community-based health care services.

“Over the next 25 years, the number of members of the population aged 60 and over is expected to double, and more and more of them will want to receive home care. This legislation would allow them to receive the care they need at home, while saving millions of dollars in Medicaid funding for the State,” Senator Weinberg said.

This measure now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

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