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Weinberg’s ‘Independence, Choice And Dignity In Long-Term Care Act’ Receives Final Legislative Approval

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.

“It is incredibly unfair to tell someone that they cannot live in the home where they raised their children, the home that holds so many memories, simply because they are in need of assistance,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “This measure would allow older and disabled New Jerseyans to live in the homes they’ve worked so hard to buy and keep, while receiving the medical care they need.”

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.

“This bill was developed over the course of a year with the cooperation of the Departments of Human Services and Health and Senior Services, and many other groups like the AARP , the Elder Coalition, and a variety of other groups representing the health care community and its workers. I’d like to thank them for all of their hard work and effort,” said Senator Weinberg.

This measure now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.

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