State Budget Provides Boost to Autism Community
July 18, 2019
The State Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, the Budget for the Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2019. The $38.7 billion state budget includes appropriations that will directly benefit the autism community in the coming fiscal year.
Adult Services – The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) budget includes $22.5 million of new funding to assist adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The funds are intended to be designated as follows:
- $15.5 million to continue the growth of New Jersey’s home- and community-based services
- $7 million to address the challenges experienced by individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health conditions ($2.5 million of which will garner a federal match for a total of $9.5 million) that would potentially fund:
- 20 new community-based crisis beds to double the state’s current capacity
- Medicaid Behavioral Health Home pilot program designed to serve the needs of this population; such “homes” refer to more coordinated-care models, not to physical structures
- A statewide review of existing crisis in-patient stabilization services and funding sources
We applaud Governor Murphy’s and the Legislature’s continued commitment to increasing funding for adult services and, more specifically, adults with co-occurring mental and behavioral health challenges. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide the Department of Human Services (DHS) and DDD leadership with recommendations to maximize this funding for the greatest benefit. Our policy recommendations focus on four key areas: state leadership inclusive of parents and experts, earlier identification of behavioral challenges, integration of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) assessment and treatment methods into existing services, and workforce development to meet the specialized and multidisciplinary treatment needs of this vulnerable population.
Children’s Services – The Department of Human Services budget includes new funding for Medicaid-eligible youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Last year, Autism New Jersey participated in a stakeholder group convened by the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (Medicaid) and the Children’s System of Care (CSOC) to provide recommendations on the development of a State Plan Amendment (SPA), a document that describes covered services, provider qualifications, and more. The SPA was submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for review and approval on March 29, 2019. We will inform the community when CMS approves the SPA and the benefit is available.
DSP Wages – For the third year in a row, the budget includes an additional $20 million to increase the wages of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who provide essential care to children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. This amount is in addition to $20 million the Governor included in his budget to maintain the increase from the FY 2019 budget. The increase will come in the form of higher rates for eight identified services in the DDD’s Supports Program and Community Care Program and contract or fee-for-service adjustments for service providers with the DCF and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
We thank the Governor and the Legislature for their ongoing support for individuals with autism and their families throughout the state. For any questions, comments, or additional clarification on the state budget, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.