(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Wayne DeAngelo and Pamela Lampitt sponsored requiring the state to properly notify individuals with developmental disabilities when the services they are receiving are terminated or discontinued cleared the full Assembly on Thursday, 64-0.
Mazzeo said he was moved to sponsor the bill after meeting with the Atlantic City Arc and learning that some of their clients had their services terminated without proper notice. This legislation aims to address the issue by ensuring individuals with developmental disabilities, their legal guardians and providers of services have notification 90 days in advance of termination.
"One of the services provided by the Arc is residential living which allows residents with developmental disabilities to receive the support needed to live independently. Failing to provide proper notice that their services or residential placement is being terminated can put these residents through serious hardship," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "This bill can help avoid putting these residents through such a predicament by ensuring they, and providers like Arc, are notified well in advance of any service interruption."
The bill (A-4420) would require the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) in the Department of Human Services to notify an individual with developmental disabilities, or his or her guardian, of plans to terminate any services or residential placement received by the individual due to ineligibility for benefits under the Medicaid program or ineligibility for services or a placement from the DDD. The bill would also require the DDD to notify providers in these instances, as well as when funding for a service is discontinued. The notifications provided for in the bill would have to be made at least 90 days prior to services or a placement being terminated, or a service being discontinued.
"Routine is often critical for individuals with developmental disabilities, and those who rely on these services should not be caught off guard," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Increasing the advance notice given to individuals and their families gives them time to find alternative programs and resources to meet their needs."
"If being ineligible for assistance was not bad enough, hearing about it at the last minute without time to process or plan ahead is terribly inconsiderate," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This ensures that affected individuals have enough time to plan ahead before the inevitable."
"The needs of many of these residents are significant," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Disrupting these services without giving them enough time to make proper arrangements is unfair and may be detrimental to their well being. This bill ensures that no one is left scrambling."
The bill also amends current law which allows the DDD to terminate services within 60 days of ineligibility being determined. The bill would change it to 90 days.
The bill was released by the Assembly Human Services Committee on June 5 and by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on June 22.