Hearing focuses on N.J. health-care funding

    As they examine Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $29 billion state budget, New Jersey lawmakers are getting some input at public hearings.

    The first of several planned hearings by the Assembly budget committee focused on funding for heath care.

    Lowell Arye, executive director of the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities, urged lawmakers to get rid of required Medicaid co-pays for adult day care that cause some people not to get the services they need.

    “The person ends up having problems. It exacerbates their illnesses. They end up in emergency rooms or nursing homes,” said Arye Tuesday. “Their entire illness goes downhill and then it costs more in the long term for the Medicaid program.”

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    Debra Wentz, CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, asked lawmakers to go along with the administration’s decision to maintain the current level of funding for addiction treatment services.

    “For each dollar invested, seven to twelve dollars is saved by preventing the cost of treating addictions either in hospitals or the cost of incarceration,” she said.

    Republican budget officer Declan O’Scanlon said he does not expect major changes in the spending plan the governor proposed, but he says there is some leeway to help those most in need.

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