DHS/DDD Statewide Transition Plan Submitted to CMS

December 21, 2016

group of people at state house

Changes mark significant public policy win for our stakeholders

On December 8, 2016, the Department of Human Services (DHS) submitted its response to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) review of NJ’s Statewide Transition Plan. The amended plan has been submitted for CMS’ review and approval.

Thank you to all those who submitted comments, both when the original plan was first released in January 2015, as well as when the revised Addendum was issued this past summer. Autism New Jersey has been front and center with ongoing advocacy efforts on this very important issue, collaborating with DHS leaders, our statewide and national advocacy partners and stakeholders to ensure that the final version of the Plan would meet the needs of the autism community.

A True Collaboration

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of our state and federal partners, especially Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Chris Smith, Governor Christie’s office, Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly, Comissioner Charles Richman, Assistant Commissioner Liz Shea, as well as key legislators including Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Bob Gordon and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. We also recognize the significant contributions of our advocacy partners at The North Ward Center, Parles Rekem, Supportive Housing Association, Bergen County United Way and the Coalition for Community Choice.

What we were fighting for

Always of concern were the provisions that the STP, as originally written, would limit housing availability and individuals’ choices. The inclusion of arbitrary density benchmarks would have made certain desired or necessary settings ineligible for Medicaid funding.

We are thrilled to announce that the newest version of the STP fully addresses these concerns.

Based on Autism New Jersey’s recommendations, DHS decided to replace its “Density Review Process” with a more inclusive “Community Integration Review” that will take into account factors other than just numbers of residents when deciding if a setting is in compliance with Medicaid’s Home and Community Based Settings Rule.

Additionally, the stipulation that Developers/Providers will not be able to apply for state density review (now “community integration review”) until a setting is operational and occupied has been removed. Again, based on the recommendation of Autism New Jersey and our partners, the STP was revised to allow projects to be reviewed during the planning phase, encouraging much needed new development.

Thank you, stakeholders!

Throughout this extended process, Autism New Jersey took a leadership role, through our intensive analysis of the policies and proposals, distribution of our policy action alerts and many discussions with DHS leadership and representatives, especially Assistant Commissioner Shea — and so many of you were with us every step of the way. We must thank you, our stakeholders — your letters and emails made an enormous difference in ensuring these important changes were made.

Advocacy matters

This victory is a reminder that our collective and collaborative advocacy efforts make a difference. As we celebrate, we know our work is far from over. We’ll continue to work together with our partners and stakeholders, focusing on rigorous implementation concerns to ensure access to appropriate housing, residential services and a full and fulfilling life in the community. These remain a critical priority in the months and years ahead.

We recognize that DDD’s Statewide Transition Plan, Medicaid’s policies and the path to housing and residential services are complex issues. If you have any questions or would like to address how these might affect you or your loved one,  contact us directly at 800.4.AUTISM or information@autismnj.org.