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Ohio Department of Aging Aging Connection - February 2010

Aging Connection

CONNECT TO | Policy & Legislation
February 2010

Unified Long-term Care Systems Update

The Unified Long-term Care Systems (ULTCS) workgroup, led by the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA), is moving beyond its original charge to unify funding lines for long-term services and is examining how Ohio can re-engineer its long-term care system to increase choices in settings and services. While much of the focus of the initiative's first two years was on the needs of seniors, the group will next examine how Ohio can provide similar opportunities for younger consumers with disabilities.

Fewer people are leaving ODA-managed Medicaid waiver programs. While this means individuals are staying in the community longer and delaying or avoiding nursing facility placement; it also leaves less available funding to enroll new consumers. Enrollment of new consumers has been limited to 500 per month because of budgetary constraints. This has led to the creation of waiting lists throughout the state, though residents of nursing facilities are able to enroll at any time due to the "Home First" provisions in Ohio law.

ODA's individual long-term care funding lines have been consolidated into a single line, and the agency also is creating a single waiver that would encompass PASSPORT, Choices and Assisted Living, allowing the state to allocate supports based on need, not on funds available, which has artificially driven service utilization. When this is accomplished by July 1, 2011, Ohio will become the third state, and by far the largest one, to reach this goal.

The ULTCS workgroup is exploring new PASSPORT services to "build the middle" between nursing facility placement and PASSPORT services. Enhanced community living will address this by meeting the needs of individuals living in multi-unit subsidized housing communities - connecting service needs and housing needs. It will be an expansion of PASSPORT and use a flexible delivery approach to build upon traditional personal care supports, that will be determined by the consumer.

ODA was recently awarded a three-year grant from the Administration on Aging to create an Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) to further the development of the "front door" to long-term care services. As envisioned by AoA, ADRCs are highly visible and trusted places available in every community across the country where people of all ages, incomes and disabilities go to get information on the full range of long-term support options. The grant will support the regional collaboration activities led by area agencies on aging and bring together a variety of local and regional partners to create streamlined access to long-term services and supports for older adults and adults with physical disabilities.

The ULTCS workgroup is continuing to meet and determine their strategic priorities. Areas to be explored include: the methodology of provider reimbursement, the recruitment and retention of direct service workers, identification of the appropriate role of adult foster care in the system (including re-engineering of the Residential State Supplement program), assisting consumers to make effective and informed choices and addressing the oversupply of nursing facility beds.

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Policy & Legislation

Receive a Larger Tax Refund Through the Earned Income Tax Credit
The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) allows qualified taxpayers to receive a federal tax credit of up to $5,657. Approximately 800,000 Ohio families qualify for the federal program, but as many as 20 percent do not take advantage of it. People who want to know if they are eligible for the EITC can call the Ohio Benefit Bank at 1-800-648-1176. In many parts of the state, taxpayers also can dial 2-1-1 to speak with a representative who can help them determine their eligibility and find free tax preparation services. Taxpayers should note that paying for faster returns or obtaining refund anticipation loans (RAL) is unnecessary and should be avoided in favor of free tax assistance services, electronic filing and direct deposit, which allows for a return usually within two weeks. Visit www.Ohio.gov/EITC for useful tips and resources, interactive tools and opportunities to help other Ohio families claim the tax credit.

Caregiving Legislation and Policy Reports Online
The National Center on Caregiving (NCC) at Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) recently launched the Innovations Clearinghouse on Family Caregiving, which includes all federal and state legislation related to family caregiving introduced in the past several years, including 2009. In addition, the Clearinghouse contains policy reports and initiatives, evidence-based practices, model programs and more. Professionals are encouraged to discuss their views on relevant policies and programs in the online forum and to submit their own programs and reports for inclusion.