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.