Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 20
Serving People with Disabilities
During the 20th anniversary year of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Ohio's aging network also is celebrating the evolving role of state aging agencies in the delivery and administration of long-term services and supports. Led by the Ohio Department of Aging, the network is working to streamline the delivery of services that improve and promote quality of life, independence and personal choice for adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers, in addition to older Ohioans.
When first established through the Older Americans Act (OAA), state units on aging were primarily responsible for the administration of OAA services within the aging network. Recently, the combination of federal legislation, increased reliance on additional funding sources and the economic downturn has dramatically increased the scope of services states are called upon to provide. Nearly 65 percent of the states provide long-term services to both seniors and individuals with disabilities as of October, 2009.
Unifying the state's long-term care services and supports is an important step both, to contain costs for the state and to give all Ohio citizens the support they need in the settings they desire. Data indicate that while elderly individuals are more likely to present one or more signs of disability, individuals relying on long-term services and supports include people with physical or developmental disabilities, regardless of age. Cornell University's 2008 Disability Status Report shows that a significant percentage (13.1 percent) of Ohioans across all age ranges have disabilities and need long-term care now or in the near future. Eventually, the unified long-term care systems will serve all consumers with chronic or recurring needs for services, regardless of age or disability.
Current aging network services also are available to people with disabilities. Long-term care consultations and access to advocates from the Long-term Care Ombudsman program are available for anyone of any age, who is receiving home care, assisted living or nursing home care.
Skilled reviewers from the area agencies on aging inform consumers of all ages of their choices in long-term care service settings during a Pre-admission Review. The Review determines if an individual needs services for mental health, mental retardation or developmental disabilities; what level of care the individual requires and what types of facilities can provide that care; and if the individual could receive the services he or she needs through alternatives to nursing home care.
Ohio's Assisted Living Waiver Program pays the costs of care, for anyone age 21 and older, in a home-like setting with personal support services to provide more intensive care than is available through home care services.
Adults, age 18 through 59 who have disabilities as defined by Social Security, are eligible for a free Golden Buckeye Card, which offers cardholders special savings or deals. Cardholders also are included in Ohio's Best Rx prescription drug discount program, which lowers the cost of prescriptions for individuals who do not have drug insurance coverage for all drugs.
Ohio also has been working to expand the Aging and Disability Resource Network (ADRN) statewide. Individuals may access long-term services and supports in many different ways, through many different organizations. The ADRN brings together the diverse organizations that play a role in long-term services and supports to streamline access to services for any consumer.
Older adults and people with disabilities want to lead independent and productive lives in their communities. The aging network is committed to supporting that goal and helping them achieve it.
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Policy & Legislation
Health Coverage for People with Pre-Existing Conditions
Beginning Aug. 1, 2010, people with pre-existing medical conditions can begin to apply for health coverage through Ohio's High Risk Pool, operated by Medical Mutual of Ohio. Applicants must be uninsured for six months before applying, be a U.S. citizen and Ohio resident, not be eligible for coverage under Medicare, Medicaid, the Ohio's Children's Health Insurance Program or an employer-sponsored group health plan and have a qualifying pre-existing condition. Documentation is required. After Aug. 1, go to the Web site to download an application or call 1-877-730-1117.
Serving Ohio's Aging Population: Information on the Voting Process
The Voting Rights Institute (VRI) in the office of the Ohio Secretary of State has compiled Serving Ohio's Aging Population: Information on the Voting Process, a general guide to answer some of the common questions that confront older Ohioans throughout the voting process, including questions of residency for voting purposes for temporary and permanent residents of assisted living facilities. Also included are ways in which family members, employees and elections officials can offer direct assistance in the voting process, from absentee ballot requests, to transportation and assistance with actual ballot marking.