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NJBIA recently hosted its Health Affairs Policy Committee Meeting with Carrie Swope, Health Policy Advisor for Congressman Bill Pascrell, and Kaylee McGuire, Health Policy Advisor for Gov. Phil Murphy.

NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas raised the ongoing workforce crisis in the healthcare sector, stressing the need for additional staffing, utilization of federal funds to address the workforce challenges, and the update of licensing processing.

NJBIA Director of Government Affairs Alexis Bailey covered the importance of determining what COVID-19 administrative orders and waiver should be made permanent beyond the state of emergency to continue streamlining processes for telehealth and the administration of vaccinations, among other measures, beyond the pandemic.

Swope acknowledged the workforce challenges in healthcare, along with Pascrell’s initiative, now underway, to address substance abuse disorder. He has also been working with the hospital industry to address the wage index, Swope said.

McGuire covered the following key policy initiatives on behalf of Gov. Murphy:

Workforce: The Governor’s office wants to continue to work with NJBIA and stakeholders to address the workforce crisis and invest in healthcare professions. NJBIA encourages stakeholders to get involved in the NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities Health Services Collaborative with the state’s community colleges.

COVID-19 Update: The administration is working to prepare for any additional surge in cases, ensuring there are enough tests and vaccines for New Jersey residents, along with preparing for pediatric vaccinations for our youngest residents if they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The administration is also evaluating what administrative orders (AO) and waivers need to be extended, as some will sunset over the upcoming months at the discretion of Departments prior to the end of the statewide state of emergency. NJBIA will be submitting suggestions on which AO’s and waivers should be extended or made permanent moving forward.

Federal Public Health Emergency: The federal Health Emergency is set to expire this summer and DHS has established a process to go through the largest redeterminations for Medicaid. To find additional information, please see the MAAC’s recent presentation here. The Medicaid redetermination begins on slide 32:

Mental Health/Overdose Crisis: Harm reduction services will be expanded with an enhanced syringe and naloxone distribution program. The Governor’s office submitted a request to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to use some of Opioid Settlement funds to expand the Harm Reduction program. The administration will finalize how to use the $600 million in Opioid Settlement Funds New Jersey is set to receive over the next few years this summer.

Launch of 988 Hotline: The administration will launch a 988 hotline this summer to expand access to mental health providers for individuals in crisis.

Childcare Support: Gov. Murphy has allocated federal funds to DHS for the provider community through stabilization grants as well as hiring and retention bonuses. To date, DHS has spent roughly $200 million of its $700 million allocation on these efforts. NJBIA has been leading advocacy efforts to address childcare challenges and will continue to advocate for a robust mixed delivery system to support the industry and working parents in our state.

Long-term care: Improving the quality of care continues to be a top priority for the administration and the Long-term Care Task Force will be making recommendations at the end of the year. Gov. Murphy’s proposed FY23 budget contains Medicaid bonus payments to support this industry.

Community Health Workers: Gov. Murphy’s proposed budget includes funding for tDOH to expand the Colette Lamothe-Galette Community Health Worker Institute via a DOL apprenticeship grant.

Healthy New Jersey (HNJ): This is an initiative that focuses on identifying and addressing New Jersey residents’ priority health needs over the next decade. Information can be found here.

The committee also received an update from HOSA, a global student-led organization for aspiring health professionals recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services as well as other state and federal agencies.

HOSA’s mission is to empower its Future Health Professionals to become leaders in the global health community, through education, collaboration, and experience. HOSA actively promotes career opportunities in the health industry and enhances the delivery of quality healthcare to all people. HOSA’s goal is to encourage all health science instructors and students to affiliate and be actively involved in the HSE-HOSA Partnership.

If you have any questions, please contact Chrissy Butess at cbuteas@njbia.org.