SENATE, No. 3247

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 16, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  LATHAM TIVER

District 8 (Atlantic and Burlington)

Senator  KRISTIN M. CORRADO

District 40 (Bergen, Essex and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes counseling program for eligible family members of active duty military members and disabled veterans.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act establishing a counseling program for eligible family members of active duty military members and disabled veterans and supplementing chapter 3 of Title 38A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  The Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Human Services, shall establish a counseling program.  The purpose of this program is to link mental health care professionals with eligible family members of active duty military members and disabled veterans to facilitate the provision of mental health counseling by reimbursing mental health care professionals for counseling sessions with an eligible family member.

     b.    The department shall reimburse mental health care professionals who participate in the program for up to 10 mental health care counseling sessions, either in person or by telehealth, per eligible family member per year.  To be eligible to participate in and receive reimbursement from the program, a mental health care professional shall be available to provide 10 mental health care counseling sessions to each eligible family member the professional accepts as a client.

     c.     The department, in consultation with the Department of Human Services, shall:

     (1)   develop, maintain, and distribute a list of available mental health care professionals on a Statewide basis and shall distribute the list of available mental health care professionals to each Veterans Service Office for the distribution thereof.

     (2)   develop a process for mental health care professionals to apply for and demonstrate eligibility to receive reimbursement from the program.

     (3)   periodically inform the mental health care professional of an eligible family member’s remaining number of counseling sessions eligible for reimbursement for a calendar year.

     (4)   determine a reasonable rate of reimbursement for each mental health care counseling session with an eligible family member, which rate shall be the same regardless of whether the counseling session occurs in person or by telehealth.

     (5)   conduct an awareness and outreach campaign about the program focused on disseminating information about the program to active duty military members, disabled veterans, and eligible family members.

     d.    The Adjutant General may apply for and accept on behalf of the State any grants from the federal government or any agency thereof, or from any foundation, corporation, association or individual, and may comply with the terms, conditions, and limitations thereof, to develop and implement the counseling program.  Any money so received shall be appropriated to, and may be expended by, the department, subject to any limitations imposed in such grants, and in accordance with guidance from the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting of the Department of the Treasury.

     e.     Within 90 days after the date of enactment of this section, and notwithstanding the provisions of the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) to the contrary, the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs shall, immediately upon filing proper notice with the Office of Administrative Law, adopt the rules and regulations prepared by the department to implement the counseling program established pursuant to this section.

     The rules and regulations shall be in effect for a period not to exceed one year after the date of the filing.  These rules and regulations shall thereafter be adopted, amended, or readopted by the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs in accordance with the requirements of the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.).

     f.     As used in this act:

     "Disabled veteran" means any resident of the State who has been honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active service in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States and who has been declared by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or its successor, to have a service-connected disability of any degree.

     “Eligible family member” means an individual who is a New Jersey resident and is the spouse, domestic partner, partner in a civil union, or child, whether of the whole blood or the half blood, or by adoption, of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard who is on active duty for the United States or of a disabled veteran.

     “Mental health care professional” means a person who provides mental health services and is licensed or otherwise authorized, pursuant to Title 45 of the Revised Statutes, to practice a health care profession that is regulated by one of the following: the State Board of Medical Examiners; the State Board of Psychological Examiners; the State Board of Social Work Examiners; the State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners; the Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee; the Professional Counselor Examiners Committee; and the Certified Psychoanalysts Advisory Committee.

 

     2.    This act shall take effect 90 days after the date of enactment, except that the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (DMVA), in consultation with the Department of Human Services (DHS), to establish a counseling program for family members of active duty military members and disabled veterans.

     The counseling program will provide eligible family members of active duty military members and disabled veterans with mental health care counseling.  The program will reimburse mental health care professionals, who are available to participate in the program, for up to 10 mental health care counseling sessions, either in person or by telehealth, per eligible family member per year.

     The bill requires DMVA, in consultation with DHS, to:

     (1)   develop, maintain, and distribute a list of available mental health care professionals on a Statewide basis and distribute the list of available mental health care professionals to each Veterans Service Office for the distribution thereof.

     (2)   develop a process for mental health care professionals to apply for and demonstrate eligibility to receive reimbursement from the program.

     (3)   periodically inform the mental health care professional of an eligible family member’s remaining number of counseling sessions eligible for reimbursement for a calendar year.

     (4)   determine a reasonable rate of reimbursement for each mental health care counseling session with an eligible family member, which rate will be the same regardless of whether the a counseling session occurs in person or by telehealth.

     (5)   conduct an awareness and outreach campaign about the program focused on disseminating information about the program to active duty military members, disabled veterans, and eligible family members.

     The bill defines “eligible family member” to include any individual who is a New Jersey resident and is the spouse, domestic partner, partner in a civil union, or child, whether of the whole blood or the half blood, or by adoption, of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard who is on active duty for the United States or of a disabled veteran.