COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Ted Strickland announced Thursday that the waitlists for home and community-based services funded through the Department of Aging, including special programs like PASSPORT, Assisted Living, Choices and PACE, have been eliminated.
In a statement, Strickland said older Ohioans should have access to a spectrum of choices when deciding where they would like to receive medical and personal care services. The governor, a Democrat running for a second term this year, stroked two of his agency directors: “I appreciate the collaboration and hard work of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Doug Lumpkin and Ohio Department of Aging Director Barbara Riley.” He said that because of their efforts, “Ohio senior citizens who prefer to remain in home or community care settings are no longer relegated to waitlists.”
Strickland called for the transfer of resources from ODJFS to the Department of Aging to pay for the elimination of the PASSPORT, Assisted Living and PACE program waiting lists in February. At the time, 592 Ohioans were on waitlists.
But now that the Controlling Board, bi-partisan group of legislators who exercise oversight over certain capital and operating expenditures, approved the transfer of funds on March 8th, not only are those waitlists clear but information provided by ODA says 375 more senior citizens can be serviced through the end of the 2010 fiscal year.
The transfer of funds – $4,809,076 – represent the state-share costs for eliminating the waiting list. Information provided by ODJFS today shows that through the end of the second quarter (December 2009), ODA had requested $490,924 to be transferred from ODJFS for the state share of actual Home First expenditures.
Home First is the mechanism that refers residents of nursing facilities who are transitioned to ODA managed Medicaid programs or the Residential State Supplement program. Home First allows individuals to transfer to these programs if it is determined that a Long-Term Care Services program is appropriate for the individual, the individual wishes to participate in one of these programs and regardless of any waiting list the Long-Term Care Services program might have, according to Controlling Board minutes.
Of the amount ODA had requested, an ODJFS staff person said that $182,062 was for Assisted Living, $287,578 was for PASSPORT, $1,711 was for PACE and $19,573 was for the Residential State Supplement. ODA was making these requests on a quarterly basis for actual expenditures incurred, according to an ODJFS source familiar with program details.
Information supplied by ODA said none of the increase will be used for state administration and that all funds will be spent on subsidies and shared revenue.
History of the decision
This issue came before the state Controlling Board early in March, when Senator Carey and Representative Hottinger asked questions about it. Carey, now term limited, asked Barbara Riley, Director, Department of Aging, for clarification on how the waiting list works and whether they still need to pursue legislative initiatives.
Riley answered that ODA had embarked on creating waiting lists with the passage of House Bill 1 due to the limits on funding for home and community based services. She said about 20 percent of the individuals were going into nursing facilities under the ODJFS budget as a result of not being able to wait for the home and community based services. As time passed, she said, it was realized that the amount of funds being expended on those individuals in the nursing facilities was really sufficient to fund the number of people that were waiting for long-term care and home based and community based services. “At this point it simply makes extraordinarily good sense to do what both the individuals need as well as what is fiscally sound,” she said.
Riley told Carey that in the event the department encounters similar funding problems in the future, they still need and want a home first provision which House Bill 398 and Senate Bill 214 both endeavor to do. “We’re all hopeful that we won’t find that situation again,” she said.
Riley, responding to Rep. Hottinger’s question on the size of the waiting list, said the size of the waiting list and duration of delays varied from month to month. “This increase would eliminate the waiting list to serve an additional 375 individuals per month through the end of fiscal year 2010.”
Hottinger asked Riley why the department did not take steps to eliminate the waiting list earlier. Riley said the department could not take steps to eliminate the waiting list earlier because it was unsure at the time the budget was enacted how many of the applicants would have to enter nursing facilities.
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