News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Flashpoint

April 10, 2011

FLASHPOINT: Cutting state’s CHOICE program dangerous for citizens and taxpayers

The CHOICE program is in real danger of becoming a needless casualty of the state budget debate. The program stands for Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly. The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has targeted CHOICE for massive cuts in the proposed budget. The so-called cuts are being made without serious consideration of the damage to citizens and the cost to taxpayers. The wise management of CHOICE funds could cut the cost of medical services to the State of Indiana.

CHOICE has been used to provide home-based services to persons who are at risk of nursing home placement. Many wish to remain at home through a combination of care of family, friends and home-based services. The legislation for the program was sponsored by Rep. John Thomas of Brazil in 1987 and has enjoyed bipartisan support because of its cost savings to the state and the care provided.

The answer to what action is needed is quite straightforward since it costs $4,000 per year on average to care for a person under CHOICE and $50,000 in a nursing home. For those persons who have the option and want to stay home, the answer should be simple, give them what they want. With CHOICE, many families never need to turn to Medicaid, because they can stretch their resources with some timely help. A few hours of help can enable a family member to keep working. The absence of help will force many persons to enter nursing homes for lack of an alternative.

FSSA is withholding $7.3 million from the current annual CHOICE budget of $48,765,643. The state administration is asking the Indiana General Assembly to reduce funding to just $18,253,605 for the fiscal year beginning in July 2011 and to provide just $22,965,643 in the second year. These reductions are far in excess to cuts in other state-funded services. The reduced funds will be shifted to provide Medicaid match that is some 30 percent of the cost. The state’s share of $50,000 in nursing home placement is $15,000. The other $35,000 comes from our federal taxes.

So what’s the problem? The Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) is releasing conflicting cost reports. Last fall the FSSA said CHOICE cost approximately $4,000 per year in state funds, now they are saying it costs $7,000 per year. They say the money is needed for Medicaid match.

Indiana has information from a number of states that demonstrates the wisdom of utilizing state-funded home-based services. Many other states have reduced nursing home placements to cut costs and to provide the services their citizens preferred. The state of Indiana is ignoring what its citizens want. The state of Washington (population 6.6 million compared to Indiana’s population of 6.4M) has deliberately concentrated on providing home-based alternatives to expensive nursing homes. Washington, through quality management, has reduced the number of Medicaid funded nursing home beds to 10,600. FSSA, with its preference for nursing homes, has 28,600 in Medicaid-funded beds.

Indiana continues to have some 5,500 persons on the CHOICE waiting list. Washington has no waiting list. Indiana is spending $1.2 billion on nursing home placements; Washington is spending $580 million on nursing home placements. Washington upgraded the nursing care in its nursing homes with savings earned by fewer placements and directed by some added funding to education. Indiana has earned low marks for the quality of care in a number of nursing homes.

I worry and pray about persons who are elderly or disabled in Indiana and who are being forced into nursing homes. Funding is not the issue since nursing homes cost 10 times more. Why is FSSA allowed to propose this course of action? Why would the General Assembly let it happen? There were crossover votes on second reading of the budget bill. The issue should not be made partisan. The issue should be settled based on its merits.

Glenn Cardwell is former director of the Vigo County office of the Family and Social Services Administration.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Flashpoint
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Obama Advisor Skips House Hearing Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity