News Release
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   August 15, 2001

George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg
Dennis McGowan


Acting Governor Supports Increase in Quality Drug Treatment, Releases Report of the New Jersey Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Advisory Task Force

TRENTON - Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco today announced that $6.3 million has been identified to support and expand drug treatment services and improve treatment quality in New Jersey. The acting Governor made the announcement today in releasing the report of the New Jersey Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Advisory Task Force.

"This report is a watershed event in the history of substance abuse treatment in New Jersey," DiFrancesco said. "It provides a road map that all concerned can use to expand quality treatment and bring treatment services into the 21st century. Today, we're taking important steps toward that goal."

The money would pay for a range of services, from immediate care of people needing help getting off drugs, to long-term treatment for adolescents, and expanded "safe and sober" housing for people reentering the community. New funding would also help certain treatment programs hire licensed and certified staff to deliver state-of-the-art treatment services.

The task force was convened last year by the department to conduct a thorough review of substance abuse treatment in the state, including financial issues providers face and the gap between the need and available services.

"The task force has laid out in stark detail the problems people have finding treatment in this state, as in the nation. And it has done an excellent job describing New Jersey's current treatment system - which is really many systems, both public and private," said acting Commissioner of Health and Senior Services George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD.

"Now that we know where we stand," said Dr. DiFerdinando, "we can all go to work to make quality treatment more widely available to those who are ready for it, including adolescent treatment through our South Jersey Initiative, more 'safe and sober' housing for those who need it, and detoxification services for those taking the first step to ending substance abuse."

The task force found that fewer than half those who want treatment are able to find it. About 67,000 New Jersey adults are treated each year in publicly funded programs, while another 71,000 are unable to get care because of limited treatment capacity. In its report, the task force made a series of short- and long-term recommendations to expand the treatment system, improve the quality of treatment and increase reimbursement for treatment services.

Dr. DiFerdinando announced that the department would convene a Managed Care Forum made up of managed care groups, treatment programs, employers, parents and others to discuss ways to better coordinate services to people covered by managed care and those treated in the publicly funded system.

The $6.3 million announced today includes $5.3 million in federal money and $1 million in state money from the Drug Enforcement Demand Reduction fund, which is funded with fines on drug users convicted of crimes. More than $4 million of the total will fund certain treatment programs in state fiscal year 2002, and the remaining money will pay for quality improvements in treatment services. As part of the treatment package:

  • A total of 64 new "safe and sober" houses will be opened in counties around the state over the next three years, and serve about 210 people annually ($375,000).
  • Funding will be continued to the counties for detoxification services for 1,700 people a year ($1 million).
  • The South Jersey Initiative for adolescents and young adults will be continued. Begun last year, the initiative provides a range of coordinated treatment - both residential and outpatient - to 400 clients a year in the eight counties of southern New Jersey ($2.57 million).
  • The department will purchase seven more beds in North Jersey for the long-term, residential treatment of 21 more young people a year. This is in addition to the 241 long-term treatment beds for adolescents already funded by the department ($181,000).
  • Matching funds will be made available for the Seabrook/MATRI-ARK program in Cumberland County, a residential treatment program for substance abusing women and their children ($331,000).
  • Funding will be available to expand and enhance treatment for persons with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders ($315,000).

The task force also found that, although not severely deficient, treatment service quality needs more attention and funding to make sure clients get the good care they deserve.

Nearly $800,000 in funding for quality improvements will help treatment programs meet the state's newly adopted licensing standards, which require that 75 percent of a program's staff be licensed and certified by the state's Division of Consumer Affairs. Thirteen agencies will use the money to make needed building improvements and to help staff meet the new standards.

Funding has also been dedicated to complete a study of the actual costs of treatment across the wide variety of programs in the state ($600,000). The information can be used to set future reimbursement rates, and the programs themselves can use it to compare their costs against those of their peers. The department will also fund a periodic household survey to track the need for substance abuse treatment in the state ($150,000).

Dr. DiFerdinando will also convene a Quality of Care Work Group to develop standards for what constitutes quality care that the treatment community can agree on. The Work Group may also discuss partially tying some reimbursement to meeting these quality standards. The Work Group will also study the creation of Substance Abuse Centers of Excellence to serve as demonstration sites where providers learn the latest and best methods in substance abuse treatment.

Members of the 36-person task force included representatives of the various state and county agencies involved in substance abuse treatment services; private citizens representing populations needing services; treatment providers; managed care organizations; public and private payers; and other experts in substance abuse treatment and prevention.

For a copy of the report, please visit on the department's web site.

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