Singleton, Ruiz Bill To Expand Medicaid Coverage For Community Violence Prevention Services Advances

Trenton – In an effort to disrupt the cycle of violence in underserved communities, the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, which would require Medicaid coverage for community violence prevention services.

“For violently injured patients, Medicaid is a lifeline. Research indicates that among victims of gunshot wounds, nearly two out of three patients are either on Medicaid or uninsured,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This coverage is critical throughout the duration of a survivor’s physical and psychological recovery, and this legislation will ensure that Medicaid recipients are covered when they need it most.”

The bill, S-2007, would require Medicaid coverage for community violence prevention services for beneficiaries who receive medical treatment for an injury resulting from an act of community violence. The bill would also require Medicaid coverage for recipients who have been referred by a certified health care or social services provider to receive community violence prevention services.

“Community violence is a fatal epidemic primarily impacting low income communities, and disproportionately people of color. The purpose of this legislation is to provide enhanced support to victims inside and outside the hospital to prevent retaliation and foster physical and emotional healing,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This legislation will establish proactive measures to stem the cycle of violence and address the impact trauma has on our communities.”

Under the bill, the Department of Health would be directed to approve at least one accredited training and certification program for certified violence prevention professionals. The program would include a minimum of 35 hours of initial training and at least six hours of continued education every two years.

Community violence is defined as an initial act of physical force between unrelated individuals in a public space, this includes fights among groups and shootings in public spaces. Community violence can harm residents of a community physically and psychologically. Community violence prevention services could include conflict mediation, crisis intervention, and screening services for victims of community violence.

This bill was released from committee by a vote of 7-0.