TRENTON – The Assembly Health Committee unanimously released a bill requiring “medically fragile students” to receive clinical nursing services from a provider that participates in state Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare programs.
The bill, A1838, defines a “medically fragile student” as one suffering from a life-threatening medical condition and requires more individualized and continuous care than a school nurse could provide.
“Clinical nursing services” is defined by the bill as health-care related services that are provided, based on a medically fragile student’s individualized education plan and a doctor’s orders. Those services are provided by a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse with specialized pediatric training who attends to the student.
The key section of the bill is language that requires that the parent or legal guardian of a medically fragile student have the option of choosing a provider of clinical nursing services to the student, with the school boards allowing that selected provider, “only if the cost to the school district remains neutral.”
Assembly Health Committee Chairman Herb Conaway described that piece of language as a cost-control measure.
Several parents of special-needs students testified in support of the bill. They said several school districts switched to less personalized and under-qualified nursing services as a way of cutting costs, which greatly compromised the quality of care.
The students suffer from such medical problems and disorders as seizures and cerebral palsy.
As one parent said about the bill, “This is about life and death situations.”