July 2017

July 1, 2017


After a three-day Government shutdown, the Legislature and Governor Christie struck a deal which resulted in the signing of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. The major standoff between Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Governor Chris Christie concerned the restructuring of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield (HBCBS). Governor Christie wished to restructure HBCBS to provide funding taken from the company’s surplus to battle the State’s current addiction epidemic. In the end, the FY 2018 Budget appropriated $34,670,313,000 in state funds and $15,823,846,786 in federal funds for the upcoming year.

This year’s budget appropriates $18.31 billion for the Department of Human Services. This budget signifies an increase of $37.1 million in funding from the previous fiscal year. The State will provide $6.65 billion in funding, while the Federal Government will supply an additional $9.88 billion in appropriations.
This year’s budget allotted $4.18 billion in state dollars and $7.71 billion for a total of $13.48 billion in funding for Medicaid based services. This appropriation totals nearly 74% of the Department of Human Service’s budget. Furthermore, the budget also designated $1,783,882,000 from State and Federal funds for medical coverage of nursing home residents. This funding level is an increase of nearly $85 million from fiscal year 2017.


The Legislature recently passed S291.A1464, which would authorize health care providers, including licensed physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners to remotely provide health care services to patients via telemedicine and telehealth. The passage of the bill signifies the conclusion of a two year legislative effort to allow for health care providers to provide telemedicine to patients in New Jersey.

If signed, the legislation would permit health care providers to remotely provide health care services to patients through the use of telemedicine, and if necessary, to engage in telehealth to facilitate health care. In order to provide telemedicine, health care providers must register with the Department of Health and indicate the care they wish to offer. Proponents of the legislation argued that telemedicine would provide more accessible health care to patients residing in rural settings.


The House Budget Committee has approved a budget plan that would convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to a block grant program and slash funding by $150 billion over 10 years. Approximately 43.6 million individuals participate in SNAP.

Proponents of SNAP argue that if the Republican controlled Legislature were able to pass cuts to the program, America will be faced with the largest hunger crisis since the Great Depression. Last year, in New Jersey alone, 850,000 residents received approximately $1.2 billion annually from SNAP to purchase food.


On June 19, 2017, the Legislature passed S1018.A.320 (Weinberg/Singleton), which establishes the minimum Medicaid reimbursement rate for personal care services. The legislation establishes a State Medicaid fee-for-service rate of$15.50 per hour. This fee applies to services offered through the Medicaid fee-for-service delivery system or through a managed care delivery system. Furthermore, the rate will be indexed for inflation on July 1 of each year.


The State Senate unanimously approved Senators Jim Holzapfel and Diane Allen’s and Assemblymen David Wolfe and Gregory McGuckin’s measure to protect senior citizens in assisted living facilities on June 29, 2017, sending the legislation to Governor Christie’s desk. The legislation, A.936/S.1219, requires any caretaker, social worker, physician, nurse or other staff member of a care facility to report to local enforcement any instance where there is reasonable cause to suspect an elderly resident is being abused or exploited.

Furthermore, the state Division of Consumer Affairs is expanding the ‘Safe Care Cam’ program to provide hidden cameras to family members of elderly and disabled patients who suspect that their loved ones are being abused by caregivers. In 2016, 307 home health aides were disciplined by the State Board of Nursing for alleged criminal activity. Since the program’s expansion in early May, authorities have seen referrals of alleged cases increase.

In addition to the expansion of the ‘Safe Care Cam’ program, the Division of Consumer Affairs also eliminated rules that would allow new health care workers to start working in the homes of patients while a criminal background check was pending.


S.2875/A.2741, sponsored by Senators Joseph Vitale and Linda Greenstein, and Assemblymen Craig Coughlin and Jamel Holley, was unanimously released by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on June 19, 2017. The legislation, was unanimously approved by the Assembly in September, and authorizes municipal governing bodies to pass ordinances requiring the municipal clerk to create and maintain confidential contact lists to help ensure the safety of residents who may require special assistance during an emergency.

Under current law, counties are authorized to maintain such registries. The proposed legislation would include the name, address and special circumstance of each resident. The municipal clerk would provide copies of the list to police departments, fire departments, first aid and rescue squads serving the municipality. The legislation mandates that this list is not public record.


S.2844/A.4425 – Eliminates certificate of need requirement for inpatient hospital beds for treatment of psychiatric and substance use disorder dual diagnosis.
Signed by Governor Christie on July 3, 2017.

S.468/A.837 – Establishes ‘Hazardous Drug Safe Handling Act;” requires promulgation of standards and regulations concerning safe handling of hazardous drugs by certain care personnel. Signed by Governor Christie on May 11, 2017.

S.2209/A.3601 – Concerns regulation of guaranteed asset protection waivers by DOBI.
Signed by Governor Christie on May 11, 2017.

S.1475/A.3304 – Establishes three-year Medicaid home visitation demonstration project.
Signed by Governor Christie on May 1, 2017.

AJR.76/SJR.16 – Designates September ‘Affordable Housing Awareness Month.’
Signed by Governor Christie on May 11, 2017.

S.516/A.2503 – Provides protections for individual with developmental disabilities; upgrades crimes committed against such individuals; and improves transparency and accountability in investigations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of such individuals; designated as ‘Stephen Komninos’ Law.’
Passed both Houses on June 22, 2017. Currently awaiting Governor Christie’s signature.

S.1162 – Imposes prevailing wage for public work on properties receiving tax abatements or exemptions.
Passed the Senate 23-15 on June 26, 2017.

S.2563 – Clarifies DCA rulemaking authority over free-standing residential health care facilities, and prohibits evictions of residents from such facilities, except for good cause. Passed the Senate 37-0 on June 19, 2017.

S.2579 – Concerns long term tax exemptions on certain age-restricted low-income housing.
Passed the Senate 37-0 on June 19, 2017.

S.2877 – Establishes New Jersey Caregiver Task Force to evaluate and provide recommendations on caregiver support services.
Passed the Senate 37-0 on June 19, 2017.