This morning, The Human Services Equity Coalition announced that 3,305 messages were sent to elected officials in favor of A508/S2668 during its recent week of action. From November 13 to November 17, 931 advocates from various groups came together to tell decision-makers that community-based services for intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance-use disorders need continuous investment. These services will become less and less accessible or disappear altogether if the state does not look at the increase in the cost of living each year.
Community-based providers are facing more than 25% frontline staffing vacancy rates and an 11.5% rise in employer healthcare costs while the number of people needing services grows. The tens of thousands of people and their families will only get equitable services if Medicaid pays fair rates.
A508 and S2668 are bipartisan bills that have seen great momentum in recent months, becoming a potential priority for the lame-duck session according to NJ Spotlight News, and growing to a total of 18 cosponsors in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature.
Bills A508/S2668 intend to have the state acknowledge costs have risen by including an inflationary adjustment at the beginning of the budget process. This bill would not cost the state money, and lawmakers would decide what the state can afford. Without regular review, the Medicaid rates community providers for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, behavioral health, and substance use disorders rely on, will reach crisis levels. This translates into continued waitlists, understaffing, program closures, and increased need for costly institutional care. Community providers rely on Medicaid reimbursement for over 80% of their revenue, and for some providers, it is more than 90% of revenue. We need predictable growth in rates to be able to continue to deliver services to the growing number of those in need.
The Human Services Equity Coalition is a diverse array of disability advocates, social service providers, business groups, and trade organizations who have come together to pass A508/S2668. Consisting of 127 groups, we seek to sustain human services.