Human Services identifies areas of savings it anticipates for next fiscal year

TRENTON – The Department of Human Services budget for fiscal year 2012 assumes it will receive the Medicaid global waiver, which will save the department some $225 million (the Department of Health and Senior Services would save $75 million).

The department, which was before the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee Thursday, has also identified other areas of savings. They include savings of $41.4 million by moving clients into managed care programs, $13 million by no longer providing assistance for Medicare Part D patients’ co-payments, $13.1 million by cutting state aid to county psychiatric hospitals, and $9 million through the closure of a psychiatric hospital.

In other areas, the DHS has markedly increased funding. They include an additional:

-$15 million for the Graduate Medical Education & Relief Fund.

-$5 million more toward Charity Care, which pays for uninsured patients who received hospital treatment.

-$8.1 million in “bridge funds” for community residential placements from Vineland Developmental Center, which the state wants to close within two years.

-$7.8 million in emergency placement costs, preferably for patients who are on waiting lists.

-$5 million to develop community residences for patients discharged from psychiatric hospitals.

Assemblyman and Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald, (D-6), of Voorhees, asked how many patients have been transferred from development disability centers to community facilities.

DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez said 70 patients had moved, more than the 62 originally planned.  A longtime supporter of moving patients into community residential placements, calling the state-run developmental centers antiquated, he said he would like to see the process be moved faster, although in a safe and responsible manner.

“It’s too slow,” Greenwald said.

Vice Chairman Gary Schaer, (D-36), of Passaic, said he would like to see “strings attached” to the medical education fund to ensure those who receive its benefits don’t move to another state.

  Human Services identifies areas of savings it anticipates for next fiscal year