I have touched on this previously, but I do not think anybody understands the impact. I heard that the Human Services Advisory Council realized the impact last night at their regular scheduled meeting. I hear that Jack Surrency doesn’t even want to discuss it, even though the loss of funding will basically shutter the HSAC.
I received an anonymously mailed two-page report on PEER Grouping Guidelines for Services. This is helpful, because the county and state websites are silent on what PEER is and on what PEER does.
In a nutshell, PEER was adopted “as a means of providing a stable, predictable financial base for a home and community based long term care system.” The NJ State statute establishing PEER requires each participating county (that is – a county that has a county-run nursing home) to commit a portion of the net increased revenues from Medicaid reimbursements.
In the case of Cumberland Manor, there is a net of $800,000 per month in Medicaid funding. Of that, the Manor writes a check of $80,000 a month to the county treasurer. If the Manor is sold, this funding will be eliminated. The county will have to come up with another source for that roughly $960,000 a year.
Granted, these PEER funds have specific allowable uses. The main purpose of the funds, of course, is to provide services for “frail elderly people and/or people with disabilities who might otherwise require nursing home care.” Funds may also be used for other programs as determined to a priority by the Human Services Advisory Council. The Cumberland County HSAC is allocated about t $326,500 annually.
This funding, used for many programs such as Meals on Wheels would be obliterated. Bill Whelan thinks this is a good idea, apparently. So much so that he spearheaded a campaign, along with Magazzu before he was so indecently deposed, to sell the manor with as little public debate as possible. It seems we have thrown a kinks in the works.
I am still awaiting answers to many questions, the least of them not being what in the hell happened to the other half a million dollars in PEER money? Nobody in the county seems able, or willing to answer this question.
You see, the PEER program has certain restrictions on how that money can be spent. It cannot be used, for instance, “to replace other funding sources for existing programs and services.” The money may be used for the following types of services:
Adult Day Care; Alternative Living Arrangements – Independent Living; Alternate Family Care or other residential services; Case Management – When employed specifically to achieve nursing home placement avoidance or delay; Companionship; Home Care Services; Home Delivered Meals; Home Health Care; Homemaker Assistance; Hospice; Medical Supplies and Pharmeceutical Supplies; medical Transportation; Personal Care; Respite Care.
ALL of these programs are at risk in Cumberland County if we lose the PEER money. I can attest to the necessity of Hospice with my father’s recent illness and death. There is no way the family could have provided the necessary care, and my father had no insurance to cover these sorts of things.
However, I still want to know what happened to the other half a million that could be used to further fund these necessary programs for a county that leads the state in poverty. These monies cannot be used in the general fund – and I have to wonder why the county is stalling in responding to my OPRA requests asking for this info? They delayed several days after receiving the requests in the mail to register them. I can only imagine the back room meetings taking place trying to figure out how to handle this one.