By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
The broad impact of the COVID-19-driven economic downturn requires that we streamline government’s approach to problem solving to insure help reaches the people it’s supposed to reach. Here are highlights of some of the legislation we have proposed and the results we hope our bills will produce.
Many of our bills to help small businesses, nonprofits, and local governments deal with lost revenues and rising costs due to the public health emergency are advancing through the State Legislature.
Our bill to appropriate $300 million to NJ Economic Development Authority to help small business and not-for-profit corporations preserve and create jobs, would spur economic growth and support the vitality of New Jersey’s Main Streets.
The bill, S3457, which we introduced in the state Senate this month, would provide a new round of help to business and nonprofits that have been burdened by overly restrictive eligibility requirements when trying to access prior state and federal programs.
Lost revenue and increasing costs are forcing municipal governments to choose between cutting services to residents or raising their property taxes. We introduced S-1 to encourage towns to share services. The bill would give towns greater flexibility to manage personnel, tenure and terminal leave payments in reducing duplicate positions when trying to implement shared services agreements to save taxpayers money.
We’re also trying to help some of our residents hardest hit by COVID-19: seniors and persons with disabilities and their families. Our bill, A-5305, would appropriate an additional $10 million to the Division of Developmental Disabilities to increase to Day Habilitation Program rates for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Now before the Assembly Human Services Committee chaired by Assemblywoman Downey, the bill would reimburse service providers on a fee-for-service basis. That would make the State eligible to use federal Medicaid matching funds for 50 percent of total NJ FamilyCare expenditures.
Typically offered in a community-based or center-based setting, these programs provide individualized supportive services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities while freeing their families to go to work knowing they are in good hands.
We’re trying to make it easier for all residents to see their doctor by requiring health insurance providers and Medicaid to pay healthcare providers the same for telemedicine and telehealth services as they pay for in-person visits. In addition to Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare, A4179/S-2559 also would apply to healthcare services covered by the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) and School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP).
As we continue to try to streamline government and make sure funding reaches the people it’s supposed to help, we welcome your ideas, suggestions and questions, which you may email to us at Help@firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our Legislative District 11 office at (732) 695-3371.