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Assisted living providers and residents are expected to benefit as New Jersey invests $634 million over the next three years into enhanced Medicaid services benefiting older adults and individuals with disabilities.

The plan, announced last week, will bring in $329 million in federal matching dollars from the American Rescue Plan to strengthen and expand home- and community-based Medicaid services under the state’s NJ FamilyCare program, which serves approximately 2 million residents.

“We are prioritizing independence, community options and person-centered care,” Acting Human Services commissioner Sarah Adelman said in a press release. “Importantly, this plan was devised with significant public input gathered during group calls, a public listening session and emails.”

Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Langer Jacobs, who directs the Medicaid program, said the funding will support choice and independence for older adults and people with disabilities. Specifically, the funding will provide:

  • Rate boosts for assisted living communities, comprehensive care home and assisted living programs.
  • Higher daily rates for assisted living communities, comprehensive care home and assisted living programs that take on a higher percentage of Medicaid beneficiaries.
  • Incentives to transition individuals from nursing homes to home- and community-based settings.
  • Incentives to recruit and retain existing home care workers.
  • Help for traumatic brain injury care providers to offset COVID-19 costs related to implementing COvID-19 health and safety protocols.
  • A wage increase to $23 per hour for workers who care for older adults in need of home care services.
  • An increase to $19 per hour for the Personal Preference Program rate to help recipients who hire and manage workers to provide home care services.
  • Rate increases for case managers for Medicaid recipients with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We’re focusing on improving the quality of life of NJ FamilyCare members over the long term,” Adelman said. “In all, our intent is to enhance our existing home- and community-based programs, and invest in new efforts while also addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The program builds on Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) most recent budget, which includes enhancements for older adults and individuals with disabilities — including prescription drug assistance for older adults, support for communities to become accessible and inclusive, and wage increases for direct care workers who assist individuals with developmental disabilities.

The Human Services Departments remains in discussions with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on more than $100 million in additional proposals that could be approved in the coming months.