Home-based Care Options to Expand Under New Law

Posted on 03/31/24 by The AARP Bulletin

Some older low-income New Jerseyans are forced to go into nursing homes rather than get care at home because of red tape in the Medicaid program.

But under a new law taking effect in 2026—passed with bipartisan support and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in January—it will be easier for them to get care in their own homes. The measure enables older residents who are likely to be found eligible for Medicaid to start receiving in-home or community-based care while awaiting final approval from Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for low-income Americans.

Nursing homes generally have sufficient reserves to take patients before they are officially on Medicaid, says Susan Reinhard, senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute. “Home care agencies don’t have that kind of cash flow.”

Medicaid approval often takes months, says Katie York, AARP New Jersey’s associate state director for advocacy. For older adults with urgent health needs, such as a woman who just broke a hip, that means a nursing home might be the only option.

“In-home and community-based services can often be more accessible and more comfortable for people,” state Sen. Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City), a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement to the Bulletin.

Ten other states have similar policies fast-tracking Medicaid-funded home- and community-based care, according to AARP’s 2023 long-term care scorecard. A majority of Americans 50-plus say they want to age in place, according to a 2021 AARP survey.

The New Jersey law could also save taxpayers millions of dollars a year, according to the Legislature’s analysis of its fiscal impact, because home health services are often far less expensive than nursing homes.

—Mary Dieter

This story is provided by AARP New Jersey. Visit the AARP New Jersey page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

Explore the free AARP HomeFit Guide

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events

Photo of Memorial Day AARP Membership Sale.

Contact AARP
New Jersey