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New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

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Legislation

2024 Legislative Priorities

Pending Legislation (A3908/S3319)

Personal Needs Allowance for Medicaid-eligible Nursing Home Residents

Bill Numbers

A3908
S3319

Synopsis

Increases personal needs allowance to $140 for low-income persons residing in certain facilities

Primary Sponsors

Assembly
Christopher P. DePhillips (R-40)
Al Barlas (R-40)
Shanique Speight (D-29)

Senate
Carmen F. Amato Jr. (R-9)

Current Status

Assembly Aging and Human Services Committee
Check for hearings or updates

Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee
Check for hearings or updates

Medicaid-eligible nursing home residents would receive a monthly Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) of $140 — up from the current $50 — under this bill, which was drafted and championed by nursing home residents. The bill also establishes yearly cost-of-living adjustments.

For nursing home residents on Medicaid, the PNA is their only income to spend on goods and services not provided by the nursing home — for example, hair care, supplements, clothing, shoes, takeout food, and crafting supplies.

The $50 per month does not go far in New Jersey, which Forbes Advisor ranks as the state with the fifth-highest cost of living. Yet, according to the American Council on Aging, 26 states and the District of Columbia provide residents with higher PNA amounts than New Jersey, with the highest rate being $200 a month (Alaska). Only 13 states require a PNA lower than $50.

The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman supports this legislation. Anyone interested in learning how they can support the PNA bill should contact Community Engagement at 1-609-690-4740 or community@ltco.nj.gov.


The Path to Becoming Law

The Path to Becoming Law

Financial Disclosure and Reporting Requirements for Nursing Homes

Bill Numbers

A1872
S1948

Synopsis

Revises reporting requirements for nursing homes concerning financial disclosures and ownership structure

Primary Sponsors

Assembly
Herb Conaway Jr. (D-7), Chair, Health Cmte
Shanique Speight (D-29), Chair, Aging and Human Services Cmte
Tennille R. McCoy (D-14)

Senate
Joseph F. Vitale (D-19), Chair, Senate Health, HS, and SC Cmte

Current Status

Assembly Aging and Human Services Committee
Check for hearings or updates

Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Committee
Check for hearings or updates

The legislation would require certified financial statements for every nursing home and any related parties that are engaged in the nursing home’s operations. Companies that own multiple nursing homes would be required to submit certified statements that consolidate financial data across all of their nursing homes.

Under current laws and regulations, New Jersey nursing homes submit financial statements that are individual to each nursing home. They are not audited by any outside entity or closely scrutinized by state or federal regulators. The financial statements also provide very little detail about related parties — companies that are owned or controlled by the same principals.

This lack of transparency enables nursing home owners to pay related parties higher than market rates for various purposes. For example, a nursing home might lease real estate and purchase services (such as property management, pharmacy, and staffing resources) from related parties. The inflated payments siphon money away from patient care into hidden profits for the owners. The situation can also make it appear that profitable nursing homes are losing money and need additional public funds to properly care for residents.

The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman strongly supports bill A1872/S1948.

Under the status quo, nursing home owners can prioritize profits over the dignity and well-being of residents without public scrutiny. This is a growing concern, as the trend toward corporate consolidation and private equity ownership of nursing homes continues.

Medicare and Medicaid are primary sources of revenue for nursing homes. New Jersey’s taxpayers deserve to know how every dollar of that money is spent.

Greater financial transparency would also enable state regulators to monitor the fiscal health of nursing homes to help prevent any possible closures or disruptions to residents and families and assess the true cost of providing quality nursing home care.

Ensure Residents Can Receive Visits During Emergencies or Outbreaks

Bill Numbers

A4040
S1825

Synopsis

Requires long-term care facilities to develop person-centered care plans for residents and establishes right to certain forms of visitation for long-term care residents

Primary Sponsors

Assembly
Michele Matsikoudis (R-21)

Senate
Angela V. McKnight (D-31)

Current Status

Assembly Aging and Human Services Committee
Check for hearings or updates

Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Committee
Check for hearings or updates

This bill requires long-term care facilities to permit residents — or their guardians or legal representatives — to designate at least two essential caregivers who are authorized to visit the resident in person during a state of emergency or any outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic that is affecting, or is likely to affect, the long-term care facility.

Essential caregivers can be any individual the resident chooses, such as a family member, friend, or religious or spiritual guide.

Long-term care facilities may not set any requirements or criteria for who can be designated as an essential caregiver. Essential caregivers would be required to follow the same infection control policies as facility staff during their visits.

The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman supports this legislation.

Our staff members witnessed firsthand how visitation restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in social isolation that harmed the well-being of long-term care residents.


Last Updated: Thursday, 07/11/24