As N.J. awaits OK on Medicaid overhaul, state funding levels worry nursing homes

Nursing home officials in New Jersey are worried that the planned level of state funding threatens the future of their facilities.

Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes a $5 million increase in state support for nursing homes.

That won’t be enough to prevent some of them from going out of business, said Paul Langevin of the Health Care Association of New Jersey.

“If there’s not a significant change in the governor’s proposed budget there will be bankruptcies after July 1,” he said Wednesday.

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Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez says a shift to long-term managed care at home will reduce the need for nursing homes.

“To the extent that somebody is relying upon Medicaid almost exclusively, that’s an issue because they can’t then offset that with some private pay beds,” Velez said. “Frankly that’s part of some of counties’ concerns because they tend to be disproportionately higher in Medicaid.”

Velez says providing more community-based services and eliminating a bias toward institutional care are the right way to go.

Meanwhile, New Jersey is awaiting federal approval of a proposed overhaul of the state’s Medicaid program that officials hope will save $300 million this year.

Velez, who expects that decision shortly, told the New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee Wednesday she does not anticipate the need for supplemental state funding in the fiscal year that ends in June.

“The Department of Human Services did achieve offsetting savings though lower than projected Medicaid enrollment, higher than projected savings from recent moves to managed care, and higher than anticipated manufacturer drug rebates,” she said.

But Assemblyman Vinnie Prieto, D-Hudson, the committee chairman, says there’s uncertainty about what the feds may decide, and additional state funds may have to be allocated to cover the department’s costs.

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