By Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net
As we noted recently, Gov. Christie said that he would prioritize the problem of opioid substance abuse which has caused many deaths in New Jersey, especially in Essex, Ocean, Camden, and Monmouth Counties.
He is promoting a new bill that would mandate insurance coverage for such treatment by commercial companies. Federal mandates already exist for Medicaid.
Philly.com says, “While the Affordable Care Act requires substance-abuse coverage, New Jersey could account for the federal law’s potential repeal by passing state legislation.” (Source article by Philly.com reporter Maddie Hanna.)
“If the federal law goes away, it reverts to whatever the old state law was,” said Joel Cantor, founding director of the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University.
Very few states have such laws. The N.J. proposal would provide for inpatient coverage for up to 30 days for those who qualify. There have been some objections about the emphasis on inpatient vs. outpatient care. The Laingdon proposal for Ocean Grove would seem to fall under the heading of outpatient care, although maybe the housing component would categorize it as inpatient care. Regardless, increased funding would increase the pressure to create more such services for those who would be housed while undergoing treatment. (This is the model described for the Laingdon/Sprout concept.)
Our town would be a perfect location for places to house clients after an inpatient admission or for outpatient care. We have old hotels/boarding houses as well as homes (especially multi-family) which could be used for small residential operations doing short term care. But if there is an explosion of investment in such facilities in NJ, the article says that there will be zoning battles around the state (see quote below.)
Here is another quote from the Hanna piece, “There is an inadequate supply of substance-abuse treatment services, period. Not just in New Jersey, but around the country.”
“Others spoke Monday of challenges to opening treatment centers, including zoning battles. ‘I used to have a saying: It’s easier to open up a gentlemen’s club in this state than it is to open up a drug and alcohol treatment program. And that’s not far off from the truth,’ Tom Allen, co-founder of Summit Behavioral Health, told Senate lawmakers.”
It’s important for those of us who care about the Grove’s future, our lifestyles, our historical preservation, and our home values to keep an eye on zoning approvals and to take them seriously as precedent-setting events.
We cautioned about the zoning manipulation that allowed Mary’s Place, but hardly anyone seemed to care. And, even though the Laingdon application was withdrawn, we need to stay alert. The key will be the Zoning Board of Adjustment use variances