Long-term care fixes will improve quality of life

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I am grateful to members of Ohio’s House of Representatives for their work in beginning to implement a Unified Long Term Care Budget (ULTCB) through the biennial budget process.

While advocates have worked for many years toward achieving a unified long-term care system, the idea has gained supporters among legislators as Medicaid takes an ever-bigger slice of Ohio’s budget.

Currently Ohio spends almost 75 percent of its long-term care dollars on nursing facilities and about 25 percent on home and community based services (HCBS).

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Ohio’s Business Roundtable (BRT) has noted that Ohio would realize a savings of $900 million a year in Medicaid costs if we were able to achieve the national average on what the state spends for HCBS versus institutional services.

House members made several provisions in the Budget Bill, Am Sub HB 1, that will improve quality of life and save future dollars by strengthening the ULTCB concept. The provisions include:

Providing more options for long term care;

Adding services to help people who want to remain in the community;

Allowing Area Agencies on Aging to do on-going follow up with nursing home residents who want to return to their homes and communities;

Eliminating state limits on enrollment in Assisted Living facilities;

The way we provide long-term care to our older adults and people with disabilities today is fiscally unsustainable and does not meet the needs or desires of Ohioans it serves.

The ULTCB is a first step to offer more choice and contain long-term care costs. It uses the existing care management system operated by Area Agencies on Aging and the aging network, a system with 20 years’ experience in providing long-term care management.

Through the concept of “no wrong door,” the ULTCB informs individuals and families of their choices when they need long-term care no matter where they enter the system.

Improving delivery of long-term care services not only helps Ohio contain Medicaid costs as we prepare for a growing population that will need these services but also frees the state to fulfill other funding priorities.

I thank the members of Ohio’s House of Representatives for moving our laws toward a Unified Long Term Care Budget through Am Sub HB 1, the Budget Bill. We are hoping for continued support in the Ohio Senate.

Pamela K. Matura, Executive Director, Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc.