Citizens, groups protest against proposed cuts to Medicaid, addiction services, closure of psychiatric hospitals

 TRENTON – More than 100 people packed Tuesday’s Assembly Budget Committee meeting to show solidarity against Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed cuts to various health services. 

About half wore yellow stickers on their shirts and jackets` reading “Addiction is a disease. Let’s treat it that way.”

One group, LeadingAge New Jersey, which represents 145 non-profit groups, was at the meeting to voice concern against Medicaid funding cuts for nursing homes and senior services. The state has proposed a $25 million cut to nursing homes, among other cuts.

Last year, a $54 million cut that was proposed for the prescription drug program was largely restored thanks to these public hearings.

“I must raise strong objection to the cuts proposed in the 2012 budget, not just because they cut needed funding that supports this state’s poor and vulnerable seniors, but also because the cuts represent a betrayal from the state’s commitment to all partners,” said LeadingAge CEO Michele K. Guhl.

Lowell Arye, executive director of the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities, spoke first at the hearing. He said while he’s grateful for funding for some of the developmental disabilities programs, more needs to be done.

He said for the ninth year now, co-pays for medical daycare and the Medicare Part D program are still in effect and they should be done away with.

Budget Committee Vice Chairman Assemblyman Gary Schaer asked if there’s any evidence of a long-term impact by requiring co-pays. Arye said there is an “adverse impact” in that patients don’t go to the doctor regularly.

He said he hasn’t had the opportunity to review Christie’s proposed Medicaid restructuring, largely because no details are available. 

“We can’t analyze the proposal. There’s no specificity,” Arye said. Citizens, groups protest against proposed cuts to Medicaid, addiction services, closure of psychiatric hospitals