NJ Legislative Update: Private Duty Nursing (PDN) and Personal Assistance Services (PCA) Rate Increase Efforts

Private Duty Nursing (PDN) Update

Dana Insley, mom of Pediatrics client Abi, testifies at a bill hearing

The Private Duty Nursing (PDN) Bill was introduced in early February and passed the Senate Health Committee unanimously (9-0) on June 3, 2019. The bill, which proposes to increase the PDN reimbursement rate by $10 to $60 for RNs and $48 for LPNs while setting a rate floor such that managed care entities can reimburse no less than the state fee-for-service, has been double-referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The PDN bill will likely be heard in committee during the fall.

Thank you to the more than ten clients and families, including Dana Insley who testified in-person, who have submitted testimony detailing the challenges and obstacles they face as a result of chronically low reimbursement. With more than a decade without an increase to the PDN program reimbursement rate, this much needed increase will ensure home health care providers can recruit enough reliable, highly skilled nurses so that our clients never have to go without the care they need.

GAO will continue to keep office staff and clients updated as the bill continues to move throughout the remainder of the year.

PCA – Minimum Wage Bill Update:

The New Jersey legislature narrowly avoided a government shutdown when Governor Murphy signed the $38.7B fiscal year 2020 budget into law on Sunday, June 30. The governor used his line-item veto power to cut nearly $50 million from the legislature’s proposed budget.

Included in this next year’s budget is an increase to the reimbursement rate for the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) program. Lawmakers have provided funds to increase the rate from $16 to $18 per hour effective July 1, 2019.

On the same day as Governor Murphy signed the budget, he also conditionally vetoed the PCA Bill, which, in addition to a rate increase, proposed a five-year rate increase structure and eliminated language which required 100% of realized increases to be passed directly to home health aides. Governor Murphy’s conditional veto eliminates the proposed rate increase structure, sets the PCA reimbursement rate at $18 (as in the budget), and retains language to eliminate the pass-through requirement.

To become law, the bill must be voted on once more by both the House and the Senate. The legislature will convene to vote in late July or early fall. We will continue to provide timely updates as we learn more about the legislature’s voting schedule.

Thank you to our many clients and Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors who went above and beyond to ensure we received this important increase. Moving forward, advocating for ongoing increases to the PCA reimbursement rate in conjunction with the rising minimum wage will be instrumental in ensuring providers can continue to provide personal care services in New Jersey and to keep vulnerable New Jerseyans where they belong – safe and at home.

If you have any questions about our PDN and PCA legislative priorities, please contact [email protected].