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LEGAL TOPICS
NJ Department of Human Services Initiatives During the COVID-19 Outbreak
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The New Jersey Department of Human Services has taken a number of steps to protect vulnerable residents and ensure the continuance of needed services during the coronavirus outbreak. This article summarizes the steps taken by DHS, as outlined in their communications of March 18, 2020. For updates, visit the DHS's Coronavius page.

Actions taken by the Department of Human Services include steps to:

  1. Enable childcare providers to remain open and continue to provide care, by:

    • Waiving copays for parents with state child care subsidies if a parent requests it due to impacts from COVID-19;
    • Providing an additional $100 per child per month to child care providers for children in the State child care subsidy program to help child care centers remain open during this critical time to support working parents, emergency and essential personnel; and
    • Making grant funding available to childcare centers to support cleaning supplies or services.

  2. Ensure continued assistance of cash, shelter and food, by:

    • Automatically extending for 60 days WorkFirst New Jersey cash assistance to individuals whose case is up for renewal in March or April;
    • Extending all Emergency Assistance cases through April 30;
    • Deeming the current state of emergency as a good cause exemption for the work requirements in WorkFirst New Jersey and SNAP and suspending all adverse actions for non-compliance;
    • Convening New Jersey food banks and community pantries to focus on preparedness planning and distribution; and
    • Working with homeless shelters to address cleaning and self-isolation policies.

  3. Ensure access to necessary health care through NJ FamilyCare/Medicaid, by:

    • Covering COVID-19 testing, visits for testing, and testing-related services at no cost;
    • Waiving costs for COVID-19 testing, visits for testing, and testing-related services in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
    • Covering 90-day supplies of prescriptions for maintenance medications and early refills of prescriptions in Medicaid and CHIP; and
    • Directing hospitals to waive cost sharing for uninsured individuals who are eligible for charity care for medically necessary testing and testing-related services for the COVID-19 virus.

  4. Support Older Residents, by:

    • Mobilizing nurse care managers at Medicaid health plans to call high risk populations to identify and address their critical needs including supplies such as durable medical equipment and food;
    • Allowing older residents receiving prescription drugs through Medicaid or the state prescription drug assistance program (PAAD and Senior Gold) to refill their prescriptions early and receive 90-day supplies of maintenance medications;
    • Working with our county partners to ensure that those receiving home-delivered meals continue to have access to food;
    • Partnering with counties to end congregate dining in senior centers while helping to ensure that participants continue to have access to food;
    • Working with counties to support telephone outreach to seniors known to be socially isolated;
    • Encouraging health care providers to use telehealth for routine visits, as appropriate;
    • Working closely with community and institutional providers to ensure resident needs are met; and
    • Conducting telephonic outreach for our most vulnerable residents seeking enrollment in social service benefits.

  5. Support Individuals with Disabilities, by:

    • Temporarily closing congregate day programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and supporting this transition;
    • Providing flexibility to families to quickly hire workers and working closely with program providers and direct support professionals during the closure;
    • Releasing guidance for community providers of services to the developmentally disabled on COVID-19 preparedness;
    • Keeping residents who are deaf or hard of hearing informed through American Sign Language videos, interpreters at State emergency response press conferences, and other activities; and
    • Conducting outreach to clients who depend on our Personal Assistance Service Program for individuals with physical disabilities and our Traumatic Brain Injury Fund to ensure needs are being met.

  6. Assist those with mental health and substance use disorder, by:

    • Issuing guidance to Opioid Treatment Programs, which provide essential medication such as methadone or buprenorphine to individuals with an opioid use disorder, on ensuring the safe provision of medication including take-home medication;
    • Releasing guidance mental health and substance use disorder providers on preparedness and response, including ensuring continued access to services for individuals in need of services; and
    • Working closely with community providers to identify and ensure needs are met.
3/19/2020
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