A New Jersey state bill that would establish community-based palliative care coverage is advancing in the state’s legislature.
The engine behind the bill has been advocacy work by the Goals of Care Coalition of NJ (GOCCNJ), whose lobbying efforts moved state Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, chair of the Assembly Aging & Senior Services Committee, to introduce the bill.
“Palliative care in the home or the local community can dramatically improve the quality of life for the patient and their families and help extend the patient’s lifespan,” state Sen. Richard Codey said in a statement. “It provides comfort, relief and support for those in need.”
If enacted, the legislation would direct the New Jersey Commissioner of Human Services to apply to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to obtain any necessary amendments or waivers to implement the provisions of the bill and to secure federal funding for the program.
The commissioner would also be charged with developing rules and regulations that would be needed to implement the bill, including guidance on which patients would be eligible to receive the care.
The bill would authorize licensed, Medicaid-approved home health and hospice agencies to provide care in patients’ homes.
New Jersey is joining a wide number of states that have passed or are considering palliative care legislation.
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Oregon each have established Medicaid reimbursement for community-based palliative care. A common thread among these Medicaid programs is an interdisciplinary scope of services that addresses physical, mental and other types of care for seriously ill populations, according to a report from the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP).
“[New Jersey] ranks below the national average for delivering high-quality, person-centered care for seniors living at home with advanced illness and ranks last in terms of the total cost of care for this population.” a Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) indicated. “These older adults with complex medical needs are disproportionate users of 911 calls, recurring emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and skilled nursing facilities and as a result often experience unnecessary suffering.”