New Jersey young adults should not live in nursing homes
October 19, 2023 | Online article northjersey.com
The insightful report from Disability Rights New Jersey confirmed advocates’ suspicions that New Jersey sanctions placing individuals with disabilities into nursing homes against their will.
This shameful practice complicitly turns a blind eye allowing individuals — many under the age of 30 — to be warehoused in nursing homes. It is a gross violation of Medicaid requirements delineating individual need. It is permitted abuse by the state of New Jersey and must be rectified.
The Medicaid requirement was established to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not inappropriately placed into nursing homes. We know persons with disabilities can thrive in the community. Youth with disabilities, however, continue to be tossed into nursing homes at alarming rates.
I have firsthand knowledge that persons with disabilities thrive within small community settings. Provider agencies have the capacity to support people with disabilities in the community when supplied with the necessary resources.
Medicaid reimbursement rates for care providers have remained at abysmal levels for decades. These antiquated rates make it difficult for nonprofit organizations to hire staff and manage expenses as basic as overtime. Persons with disabilities are relegated to be supported by staff paid wages comparable to workers at fast food restaurants. What a horrific testimony to our values.
Individuals with disabilities in their 30s must be given other alternatives than living in a nursing home. Moving people from an institution to a nursing is not progress. Gov. Phil Murphy and the Legislature need to immediately invest in community-based housing to protect the lives of New Jersey residents with disabilities. Anything less is unconscionable.
Robert Stack is the founder, president and CEO of Community Options, Inc., a national nonprofit organization that develops housing and employment for 6,000 people with disabilities across 12 states.