SENATE, No. 61

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2018 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  TROY SINGLETON

District 7 (Burlington)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes “New Jersey Community Health Worker Program” in DOH to facilitate linking medically underserved communities with health care resources.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act establishing the “New Jersey Community Health Worker Program” and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  There is established in the Department of Health the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program.  The program shall establish standardized community health worker training and certification programs within institutions of higher education, and shall integrate community health worker services into State Medicaid reimbursement programs for the purposes of improving health outcomes, reducing health care costs, and reducing inequities in the availability and provision of health care services.

     b.    The Commissioner of Health shall appoint a director of the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program, who shall, in consultation with the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program Advisory Board established pursuant to section 2 of this act, be responsible for overseeing and administering all aspects of the program.  The commissioner shall make available to the director such staff and resources as may be necessary for the purposes of implementing the program.

     c.     The director shall establish the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program in Newark no later than one year after the effective date of this act.  Thereafter, the director shall establish and implement the program in such additional municipalities as the director determines necessary and appropriate in light of available resources and the need for community health worker services and the need for community health worker training and certification programs in a given region, county, or municipality.  The director shall seek to establish the program Statewide no later than five years after the effective date of this act.

     d.    The director shall be authorized to accept funding as may be made available from the federal government, the State, and the private sector to effectuate the purposes of this act.

     e.     No later than one year after the effective date of this act, and annually thereafter, the director shall report to the Legislature, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), on the implementation of the provisions of this act, including recommendations for such legislative action as may be appropriate and necessary to facilitate the establishment, implementation, expansion, and improvement of the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program.

     f.     As used in this act, “community health worker” means a professional who is certified to connect health care consumers with health care providers and resources, with the goal of facilitating access to health care in medically underserved communities and educating health care providers about the unique obstacles faced by members of that community when seeking access to health care.  To the extent possible, community health workers shall serve in the communities in which they live.

 

     2.    a.  There is established in the Department of Health the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program Advisory Board, which shall assist the Director of the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program to develop training and certification programs, identify medically underserved communities and the unique challenges facing those communities in obtaining access to health care, and develop strategies for effectively implementing the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program Statewide.

     b.    The board shall comprise nine members, to be appointed as follows:

     (1)   the Commissioners of Health and Human Services, or their designees, who shall serve ex officio; and

     (2)   seven public members, of which three shall be appointed by the Governor, and one each shall be appointed by the Senate President, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the General Assembly, and the Assembly Minority Leader.  The public members shall include:

     (a)   three representatives of community health centers, with one each from the Southern, Central, and Northern regions of the State;

     (b)   one representative from a general hospital;

     (c)   one representative from a long-term care facility;

     (d)   one representative from a two-year institution of higher education; and

     (e)   one representative from a four-year institution of higher education.

     c.     The public members shall serve for a term of five years, except that, of the seven public members first appointed, the first two members appointed shall serve for a term of three years, the second two members appointed shall serve for a term of four years, and the next three members appointed shall serve for a term of five years.  A public member is eligible to be reappointed to the board.  A member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring in the membership of the board for any reason other than the expiration of the term shall have a term of appointment for the unexpired term only.  All vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

     d.    The board shall organize as soon as practicable following the appointment of its members, and the members shall select a chairperson and vice chairperson from among themselves. The chairperson shall appoint a secretary who need not be a member of the board.

     e.     Members of the board shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

     f.     The board shall meet at least twice per calendar year, and at such other times as the chairperson shall designate.

     g.    The Department of Health shall provide staff services and other necessary support to the board.  The board may also request the assistance and services of the employees of any State, county, or municipal department, board, bureau, commission, task force, or agency as it may require and as may be available to it for its purposes.

 

     3.    The Commissioner of Human Services shall apply for such State plan amendments or waivers as may be necessary to implement the provisions of this act and to secure federal financial participation for State Medicaid expenditures under the federal Medicaid program.

 

     4.    The Commissioner of Health, in accordance with the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), shall promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act.

 

     5.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program in the Department of Health.  Community health workers are certified professionals who connect health care consumers with health care providers and resources, with the goal of facilitating access to health care in medically underserved communities and educating health care providers about the unique obstacles faced by members of that community when seeking access to health care.

     The purpose of the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program will be to establish standardized community health worker training and certification programs within institutions of higher education, and integrate community health worker services into State Medicaid reimbursement programs for the purposes of improving health outcomes, reducing health care costs, and reducing inequities in the availability and provision of health care services.

     The Commissioner of Health will be required to appoint a director for the program, who will be responsible for overseeing and administering all aspects of the program in consultation with the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program Advisory Board, which will also be established under the bill.  The bill requires the program to be established and implemented in Newark within one year following enactment, and thereafter expanded to such additional municipalities as the director determines necessary and appropriate in light of available resources and the need for the program in a given region, county, or municipality.  The director will be required to seek to implement the program Statewide within five years after the date of enactment.  The director will be authorized to accept funding as may be made available from the federal government, the State, and the private sector to implement the program.

     The director will be required to report annually to the Legislature on the implementation of the program, including recommendations for such legislative action as may be appropriate and necessary to facilitate the establishment, implementation, expansion, and improvement of the program.

     The bill additionally establishes the New Jersey Community Health Worker Program Advisory Board to assist the director to develop training and certification programs, identify medically underserved communities and the unique challenges facing those communities in obtaining access to health care, and develop strategies for effectively implementing the program Statewide.

     The board will comprise nine members, including the Commissioners of Health and Human Services, or their designees, who will serve ex officio, and seven public members, of which three will be appointed by the Governor, and one each will be appointed by the Senate President, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the General Assembly, and the Assembly Minority Leader.  The public members will include three representatives of community health centers, with one each from the Southern, Central, and Northern regions of the State; one representative from a general hospital; one representative from a long-term care facility; one representative from a two-year institution of higher education; and one representative from a four-year institution of higher education.

     The public members will serve for a term of five years, except that, of the seven members first appointed, the first two will serve for a term of three years, the second two will serve for a term of four years, and the next three will serve for a term of five years.  Public members will be eligible for reappointment.

     The board will organize as soon as practicable following the appointment of its members select a chairperson and vice chairperson from among the members. The members will serve without compensation, but will be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.  The board will meet at least twice per calendar year and at such other times as the chairperson designates.  The Department of Health will provide staff services and other necessary support to the board.  The board may also request the assistance and services of the employees of any State, county, or municipal department, board, bureau, commission, task force, or agency as it may require and as may be available to it for its purposes.