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Tina Witowsky

Rockaway, New Jersey

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Tina Witowsky, age 20, suffered a brain trauma, similar to a massive stroke, four years ago. Following months of critical care, multiple surgeries, and intensive rehabilitation, Tina was able to come home, but she needs extensive in-home services and supports, which her private health insurance stopped covering. Without Medicaid, Tina’s mother would have had to move Tina into a nursing home, or leave her job to care for Tina full-time, sell her house, and find a job working nights. Instead, because Medicaid covers the care Tina needs, she can remain at home and in her community and school, and her mother can continue to work. Through a special Medicaid option in New Jersey, Tina and her mother “self-direct” Tina’s care, screening and hiring Tina’s caregivers themselves, within a fixed budget.

Tina is able to live at home rather than in a nursing home because Medicaid also covers services and supports that individuals with long-term needs require to live independently in the community. Tina utilizes Medicaid’s “self-directed care” option, also called consumer direction, which gives her a fixed budget and allows her a large degree of control over hiring, scheduling, training, and paying for her personal care. In 2009, 37 states included consumer direction in their home and community-based services programs.

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For more information on New Jersey’s Medicaid program and other data on health coverage, access and expenditures, please visit New Jersey’s page at www.statehealthfacts.org.

"Without Medicaid services, Tina would not have the opportunity to live at home, choose her life, become and remain independent." – Tina's mother, Mercedes