Vainieri Huttle Bill "Innovative Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act" Advances

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel recently released legislation sponsored by Assembly Human Services Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to encourage the establishment of innovative service arrangements for persons with developmental disabilities.

The bill (A-2658) is designated as the “Innovative Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act.”

“It’s time to think outside of the box when providing the best care for New Jersey’s residents with developmental disabilities,” Vainieri Huttle said, who is chair of the committee. “Individuals with developmental disabilities have a right to quality and appropriate treatment, services, and habilitation.”

Specifically, the bill directs DHS to seek funding for innovative service arrangements in any application for federal assistance or reimbursement, through Medicaid or another applicable program, unless seeking such funding for a particular innovative service arrangement would be: expressly contrary to a federal requirement for such assistance or reimbursement; or unsuitable for inclusion in an application for federal assistance or reimbursement.

Under the bill, DHS will also ensure that establishing an innovative service arrangement does not unfairly benefit a person with a developmental disability with the financial means to purchase such services, in whole or in part, to the detriment of a person without such financial means; and is not to require certain financial contributions, which are made while waiting for assistance from DHS, to continue beyond the time that a person with a developmental disability would otherwise become eligible for assistance from DHS.

“We must ensure that the closings of two developmental centers do not continue to disrupt the care many residents and families rely on,” Vainieri Huttle continued. “This legislation will help to redefine how we think about providing care and how we effectively address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.”

Additionally DHS is directed to ensure that a person with a developmental disability is not removed involuntarily from a DHS waiting list for services because of a private placement in an innovative service arrangement; and expeditiously resolve, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” as a contested case, a dispute which may arise with DHS over the establishment of these arrangements.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee on Thursday, October 9.