New Jersey Vetoes Increase in Personal Care Reimbursement Rate

July 2019 ~

Governor of New Jersey has issued a conditional veto on a bill that would have raised Medicaid reimbursement for personal care services to $20 per hour and incrementally increased to $25 by 2025.

Governor Phillip Murphy has been encouraging state lawmakers to amend the bill to $18 per hour, stating it would better support the new state spending plan for fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget.

“I agree with my legislative colleagues that this is inadequate, particularly when compared to our peer states. Competitive wages are critical to recruiting and retaining quality workers and ensuring consistent, high-quality care,” Murphy wrote in the Assembly Bill reprint.

Governor Murphy noted that the FY 2020 budget, signed June 30 and effective July 1, includes $21 million funding to boost Medicaid payments for these services. The Assembly appropriations committee acknowledged it would require more than $65 million in state money to cover the $20 rate proposed in the legislation.

The Governor has also been urging lawmakers to remove language that would increase the pay scale in future years, noting that state law prevents them from “creating liabilities in future fiscal years without voter approval,” he wrote in the veto message. “The mandate upon future appropriations contained in this bill is therefore unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

Approximately 30,000 New Jersey residents currently receive services from personal care aides, who supplement the work of nurses and other clinical staff.

“Importantly, home-based care not only allows individuals who would otherwise be unable to continue living at home to remain in their communities, but is also more cost-effective than care provided in hospitals and nursing homes,” Murphy noted. “As our population continues to age, and medical advancements enable people to live longer and with chronic conditions, the demand for personal care services will increase. New Jersey needs a robust workforce capable of meeting this demand,” he wrote.

Source(s): NJ Spotlight; Patch; Insider NJ;