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Governor steps up to help senior citizens

Advocates for Ohio’s older adults, including your local Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. (AAA7), are very appreciative to Governor Ted Strickland with the recent announcement of his order to end the waiting list for PASSPORT and other in-home and community services by the end of March.

With this action, 592 older adults across the state currently on the waiting list, including 52 in our 10-county district, will be able to access the long-term care they need and deserve.

Just this Thursday, February 25, it was announced by the Ohio Department of Aging that the funds have been approved and PASSPORT can begin enrollment immediately.

Although this is wonderful news for older Ohioans, the elimination of the waiting period does not diminish the need for legislation currently under consideration in the Ohio General Assembly for those individuals who would prefer living at home with some assistance when nursing facility placement is their only option. This “Home First” legislation would extend the current program to older adults leaving hospitals or in abusive and self-neglect situations, as well as those who have depleted their assets in assisted living, or whose physicians have signed that they are at risk of nursing facility placement within 30 days.

Senate Bill 214 passed the Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee by a unanimous vote of 11-0. Both Senate and House bills have widespread bipartisan support.

The AAA7, along with other Area Agencies across the state, is pleased that Governor Strickland is supporting this Home First legislation and hopes the Ohio General Assembly will enact Home First into law so that people who wish to live in their homes can do so with the resources that support a safe and secure environment.

Working together, Ohio can achieve a unified long-term care system that will provide better care at a lower cost with increased options for all of our citizens who need long-term care.

Pamela K. Matura is the executive director of the Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc., an organization that serves Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton Counties in Ohio.