MAAC Quarterly Meeting
The MAAC held its quarterly meeting and noted the robust growth of the MLTSS program. MLTSS enrollment increased to 52,344 as of August 2017.
Additionally, the MAAC would highlight the opening of the State’s sixth PACE program, AtlantiCare Life Connection, which is opening in Atlantic City later this month. AtlantiCare Life Connection will serve Atlantic and Cape May Counties. Furthermore, the Beacon of LIFE program (Monmouth County), Lutheran Social Ministries (Union County), and Life at Lourdes (Burlington County) are expanding their areas of coverage. The PACE program has also solicited Letters of Intent (LOI) for new PACE programs. The Letters of Intent were published in the September 5, 2017 New Jersey Register.
The MAAC would further note that enrollment of the NJ FamilyCare program decreased by 28,387 individuals. Enrollment in the program is now at 1,744,819, which represents 19.5% of New Jersey’s total population.
President Donald Trumps’ Executive Orders on the ACA
President Trump signed an Executive Order on October 12, 2017 that directs the expansion of the marketplace for less regulated insurance plans. The Executive Order is aimed at association health plans, which allows for small-businesses, trade groups and other groups to band together to purchase health insurance. Under the directive, such plans would be exempt from certain Obamacare rules, including a requirement that they cover standard benefits, such as prescription drugs. This Executive Order is not anticipated to bring immediate change because of the required rulemaking process. Stakeholders and policy experts do not see changes affecting the 2018 Obamacare market.
Furthermore, the Trump Administration also announced their intention to scrap funding for subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage. The subsidiaries are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and are paid out in monthly installations. At the moment, Congress has yet to appropriate funding for the program. Following the announcement, both Republicans and Democrats decried the end of the subsidy program, noting that without the subsidies, many of their constituents would be left uninsured. It is anticipated that a number of stakeholders and insurers will sue the Trump administration, citing that they are entitled to these subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Stephen Komninos’ Law
On October 6, 2017, Governor Chris Christie signed S.516/A.2503, ‘Stephen Komninos’ Law into effect, marking the culmination of a five-year Legislative process to provide certain protections for individuals with developmental disabilities, upgrade the crimes committed against such individuals, and improves transparency and accountability in investigations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of such individuals.
The bill establishes a range of requirements for the Department of Human Services to follow at group homes and care facilities. These requirements include mandating that the Department make two unannounced visits annually to group homes and apartments, drug testing of direct care staff members in programs and housing funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities, and increasing the involvement of families of people with disabilities.
2017 Election Results
As the Office of the Governor prepares to play host to a new leader for the first time since 2009, Ambassador Phil Murphy (D) and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno (R) squared off in a historically low-turnout election to replace Governor Chris Christie (R). In the past, gubernatorial elections typically feature a registered voter turnout of approximately 47%. However, in this year’s election, only 35 percent of registered voters went to the polls to cast their ballots.
Governor-Elect Murphy and his Lieutenant Governor pick, former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex), emerged victorious in the election overwhelming Guadagno and her running mate Mayor Carlos Rendo (R-Woodcliff Lake) by a margin of 13%. After officially becoming the Democratic nominee for Governor on June 6, the former Goldman Sachs executive immediately turned his focus to his Republican adversary. The Murphy campaign tied Guadagno to her predecessor and highlighted a number of legislative priorities including full funding of K-12 education and the public employee pension system as well as restoring the appropriation for Planned Parenthood. In addition, other noteworthy policy goals include the legalization of marijuana, raising the minimum wage, imposing a millionaire’s tax and reinvigorating New Jersey’s clean energy sector.
In a State where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 800,000 registered voters, Murphy was able to energize his base and reclaim the Governorship after eight years of Republican control. Since 1970, no political party has held the Office of the Governor for more than eight years. The Murphy ticket carried traditional Democratic counties including Hudson, Essex, and Camden. Furthermore, he was also able to carry swing counties including Burlington.
In addition to the Governor’s race, this election cycle also featured all 120 seats in the legislature up for grabs.
Overall, the Democrats increased their majorities in the Legislature. The Democrats increased their hold in the Senate by one, to 25- 15 margin. In the General Assembly, the Democrats expanded their majority by two, 54-26.
Three of the four caucuses will hold their Leadership elections, Thursday, in Trenton. Incumbent Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) is expected to be re-elected for another term. Tom Kean (R-Union) is also expected to be elected to another term as Minority Leader. In the Assembly, Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) has not scheduled a leadership election where he is expected to be challenged by Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex). Assembly Leader Jon Bramnick is also expected to be re-elected by his caucus.
A.320 – Establishes minimum Medicaid reimbursement rate for personal care services.
Signed by the Governor on October 6, 2017.
S.2536/A.4163 – Clarifies DCA rulemaking authority over free-standing residential health care facilities, and prohibits eviction of residents from such facilities, except for good cause.
Signed by the Governor on September 13, 2017.
S.2332/A3968 – ‘Health Care Industry Representative Certification Act’; establishes requirements for certification of health care industry representatives.
Amended on the Senate Floor on October 5, 2017.