Opinion: Lift state moratorium on adult day care
This opinion-editorial article by President and CEO of Francis E. Parker Memorial Home Inc. Roberto Muniz originally appeared in the Daily Record
The New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services has documented the many financial abuses in the adult day care system, reporting numerous providers who have scammed Medicaid to reap small fortunes off the backs of taxpayers.
Negative stories abound in the media: Day care providers telling the elderly to lie to state investigators about their needs, people with disabilities placed in wheelchairs when they are able to walk, and even one case where a client with alleged heart failure and severe asthma was spotted cutting the center's grass. All these examples illustrate the extent that unscrupulous providers will go to collect Medicaid payments.
With investigators suspecting that nearly one-third of the state's adult day care centers committed some form of Medicaid fraud, according to published reports, it was no surprise that the state stopped issuing new licenses for adult day care centers in 2008. And, in an April 16 decision, that moratorium will be in place until at least Nov. 1 of this year.
But while the state Department of Health and Human Services remains hesitant to allow any new centers to open, the demand in New Jersey for home and community-based long term care services is growing and adult day care is a cost effective option.
Adult day care centers, if operated honestly and ethically, are enormously beneficial. They make life easier for older New Jerseyans, giving them a safe and supportive place to receive quality care throughout the day. Services vary among centers, but include medical care, stimulating activities and exercise, and nutritious meals and snacks. They also provide transportation within a designated service area, making care and support accessible, and give caregivers, such as a spouse or child, a break from 24-hour-a-day care.