(TRENTON) – Taking another step toward encouraging stronger maternal health care practices for new mothers, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson introduced legislation that would allow Medicaid Coverage for certain New Jersey home visitation program services.
The legislation is among over 15 measures sponsored by Assembly Democrats to improve maternal health care for families and reduce maternal deaths in the state. New Jersey ranks 47th among 50 states with the highest maternal deaths, according to America’s Health Rankings, a report by the United Health Foundation.
The “New Jersey Home Visiting Initiative” is an effort within the Department of Children and Families to improve the physical and emotional well-being of infants, children, and their families in New Jersey by providing community-based education and in-home support to parents and includes three, Statewide, evidence-based home visiting models: Nurse-Family Partnership; Healthy Families America; and Parents as Teachers.
“The New Jersey Home Visitation Initiative offers important programs for many women, especially those in urban communities, learning to adapt to motherhood and stay healthy for themselves and their families,” said Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “By ensuring that women are able to benefit from these programs under their health insurance coverage, we help to reduce health risks and lower the startling numbers of maternal deaths among black women in New Jersey.”
This bill (A-5114) would specifically provide that coverage under the Medicaid program includes expenses incurred in the provision of case management services and preventive services provided during a home visit through the New Jersey Home Visiting Initiative, given:
(1) the recipient of the services is a Medicaid-eligible person and is pregnant;
(2) services begin when the recipient is pregnant and discontinue three years following the birth of the recipient’s child; and
(3) the provider of services is a registered professional nurse or other professional who has successfully completed the training required by the evidence-based home visiting models participating in the New Jersey Home Visiting Initiative.
The Commissioner of Human Services would be required to apply for such State plan amendments or waivers as may be necessary to implement the legislation and to secure federal financial participation for State Medicaid expenditures under the federal Medicaid program.
Each of the models included in the New Jersey Home Visiting Initiative provide specific services to certain populations: Nurse-Family Partnership is for first-time pregnant women or new mothers who enroll in services by the second trimester of pregnancy; Registered nurses provide health education, information on other available community services and supports, and family support to parents; and Healthy Families America provides education and supportive services to new and expectant parents.
“Women may be eligible for these programs anytime during pregnancy or within the first few weeks of birth,” said Reynolds-Jackson. “Support can continue through five years of age for participating families, which is well into their first year of school for the vast majority of children. These services are critical to maintaining healthy mothers and healthy families in the communities that have gone underserved for far too long.”
The bill has been referred to Assembly Human Services Committee.