SENIOR CITIZENS ARE LAST, AND THEIR CAREGIVERS TOO—THEY SHALL BE FIRST
Staffing Levels In Nursing Homes are a serious problem. It is very important that seniors in nursing homes, whose age and physical condition leave them very vulnerable, are treated with dignity and respect and are given the highest level of care. I would fully support legislation that increases staffing levels for those in nursing homes and other care facilities.
Proper funding of Nursing Homes, by securing proper Medicaid reimbursements, and providing stop-gap funding if there is a short-fall, needs to be a state priority. If legislation came across my desk to increase funding for quality care it would not be met with a veto. As we build a NJ Health Care Single-Payer system there must be in place a clear plan for how the state plan can cover deficits in Medicaid reimbursements.
Home Care Crisis: Part of the reason there is such disarray around the question of home care is that each individual home care situation is so unique. As a pastor of a church, regularly visiting elderly members in their homes, I have seen a variety of unique and creative solutions to meet the home care needs of elderly people. There is a lot of anxiety among people coming up with solutions that may or may not be 'legal' in their minds. They may be paying an undocumented worker, they have someone they really like-but that person isn't trained or, they are paying an agency and realize that the person actually caring for Mom or Dad is getting paid only 25 cents on the dollar they pay to an agency. An open forum on home health care is in order—a place where the state, at the highest level, is really taking in the reality 'on the ground' of how aging individuals, their families, and workers are creating meaningful late-in-life care decisions. The sharing of solutions and challenges could pave the way for creative new ideas.
Programs like "the Senior Freeze" should be kept in place, and the rules adjusted, to make the program more just. Seniors should not be penalized simply for moving from one location to another within the Garden State.