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For Release:
December 15, 2010

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP

For Further Information Contact:
Dennis McGowan

Veterans In-Home Assistance Program Started in NJ to Go National in 2011 Nursing home diversion program currently in Bergen, Morris and Somerset



LYONS– A program launched in New Jersey in 2009 to help veterans of all ages at risk of nursing home placement to remain independent in their homes and communities with needed services is expanding to 28 states in 2011, said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Poonam Alaigh, M.D.


            The Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS) program is currently serving 48 veterans residing in three counties.  It has alleviated some of the barriers veterans with disabilities and their caregivers face when seeking care in the community, including limited access to in-home services, counseling, transportation, and housing options.


“This program puts veterans and caregivers in charge of their care,” Dr. Alaigh said during an event at the U.S. Lyons Veterans Administration Healthcare System Veterans Administration New Jersey Health Care System at Lyons Tuesday.  “It empowers them to choose what services they need, and how and by whom they will be provided.  Participants choose the right mix of services that best meets their needs.”


The NJ Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) began working with federal, state and county partners in 2008 to develop a consumer-directed home and community-based services program for veterans in Morris and Somerset counties who are in need of long-term care and are at risk of spending down their assets to the Medicaid eligibility level.  Morris and Somerset began serving veterans in 2009 and Bergen County provided services to its first veteran participant in November 2010. The federal government has spent a total of $1.6 million on the program—including services to veterans—as of last month.


Working to establish and expand the program in New Jersey are the Departments of Health and Senior Services, Human Services (DHS) and Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA), the U.S. Lyons Veterans Administration Healthcare System (VISN3), the Morris County Division on Aging, Disabilities and Veterans, the Somerset County Office on Aging and the Bergen County Division of Senior Services. Expanding the program to 28 other states next year are the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, its Administration on Aging and the U.S. Veterans Administration.


“This unique program allows us to help veterans access high quality home and community-based services and spend their money more wisely to forestall or eliminate the need for costly institutional care,” said Dr. Alaigh.  “We are honored that the innovation and hard work accomplished here will now help veterans across the country get help at home.”


Participants in VD-HCBS are able to hire family or friends to transport them to doctors, stores and banks; hire someone to function as a companion or mentor; attend adult day health programs; and have access to a public health nurse or social worker who can rapidly respond to any changes in their health status.


An interdisciplinary team of healthcare and social service professionals work with each participant and his or her caregivers to identify appropriate supportive services across the aging, disability and veterans’ networks.


The VD-HCBS program is one of several efforts underway in New Jersey to make the State’s long-term care system more flexible and consumer-friendly.  The State was one of 12 initially chosen by the U.S. Administration on Aging to create a single-entry system for those seeking home and community-based long-term care and supports through the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) initiative.  ADRCs work to better coordinate services for seniors, adults with physical disabilities who are age 18 and older, their family caregivers and private-pay consumers.  ADRCs, currently operating in Atlantic, Bergen, Gloucester and Warren Counties, will be established in all 21 counties by the end of 2011.


For a photo of the event please visit this site:



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