Director Barbara E. Riley retiring
Proud of department's accomplishments
It has been an honor to work within the Ohio Aging Network for the last four years. Providing services and supports that improve and promote quality of life and personal choice for older Ohioans, adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers has become far more than my job. It has become my mission. On January 9, I will be retiring as director of the Department of Aging and will point with pride to the measurable difference we have made in the lives of Ohioans by working together with a shared purpose.
Among the distinguished accomplishments of the department are:
- The Unified Long-term Care System Workgroup began its work to create a system based on consumer choice rather than funding stream. In 2008, the Workgroup finalized more than 120 unanimous recommendations, many of which have been implemented. After focusing on seniors in the workgroup's first two years of existence, the group is now examining how the state can implement similar changes for the disability community and prepare for the needs of the burgeoning baby boom population.
- We combined home- and community-based waiver programs (PASSPORT, PACE, Choices and Assisted Living) into a single budget line. This action, which was a recommendation of the Unified Long-term Care System Workgroup, ensures that individuals have access to the program they choose that meets their needs, regardless of funding stream. We have also expanded PASSPORT services to allow for more flexibility in service delivery.
- We have enrolled more than 42,000 Ohioans into home- and community-based services.
- With more than 30,000 seniors enrolled in PASSPORT, Ohio has one of the largest Medicaid waiver programs in the country.
- An annual survey of Medicaid waiver program participants found that 92 percent of PASSPORT participants, 94.5 percent of Choices participants and 74.1 percent of participants in the Assisted Living program were "very satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with the Ohio programs.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved amendments to the department's Assisted Living Waiver program that allowed us to open the program to current assisted living facility residents who have qualified for Medicaid, but otherwise would have been required to move to a nursing home for care. CMS also amended the Assisted Living waiver to increase the slot limit from 1,800 to more than 4,000 to help meet demand.
- We partnered with the Ohio Departments of Insurance and Job and Family Services, area agencies on aging and other local entities to bring the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) "Own Your Future" long-term care planning awareness campaign to Ohio.
- Through the work of the Senior Civic Engagement Council, we've begun increasing opportunities for Ohioans to continue working, learning and serving together beyond the traditional retirement age, with a focus on lifelong learning, sustained employment and volunteerism.
- ODA and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) partnered with multiple state agencies (Education, Health, Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services) to implement a comprehensive education and training system for direct care workers that includes a worker registry and, for some systems, competency-based reimbursement rates. This comprehensive system provides training opportunities so that interested workers can advance into higher paying health care occupations.
- Since March 2010, our network has transitioned and diverted more than 2,300 individuals from institutional care to the community.
- We have implemented several statewide initiatives with the help of the area agencies on aging to promote health and wellness and assist adults of all ages to proactively manage chronic conditions to delay or prevent use of long-term care.
- We are developing an Aging and Disability Resource Network among Ohio's area agencies on aging that provides a virtual "front door," where people will be able to access information about the full range of long-term support options available to them, regardless of their diagnosis or income.
- We have partnered with the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Ohio Attorney General's and Treasurer's offices, on campaigns to provide education and resources to older adults on topics such as fraud prevention and long-term care planning.
My four years with the Department of Aging have been a great gift. I have developed a lifelong passion for the work we do and those we serve. Please continue your good work, and watch for me as I find new and different venues to continue to advocate for quality of life and personal choice for older Ohioans and adults with disabilities.
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Prevent Blindness Ohio accepting applications for fellowship awards
Prevent Blindness Ohio is accepting applications for its 2011 Young Investigator Student Fellowship Awards for Female Scholars in Vision Research. The fellowship program provides support for outstanding female scientists committed to pursuing biomedical, behavioral or clinical research careers relevant to the mission of Prevent Blindness Ohio - to prevent blindness and preserve sight. Grants, ranging from $3,000-$5,000, will be awarded for the summer 2011 session. The deadline for applications is February 15, 2011. Applicants must be post-baccalaureate students enrolled in a master's or doctorate program during the summer of 2011, female citizens and permanent residents of the United States, and conducting their research with a recognized academic institution in Ohio. Applications from diverse fields in the health sciences including, but not limited to ophthalmology, optometry, nursing, genetics, public health, nutrition, gerontology and bioengineering, are appropriate to the goals of this fellowship award. Prevent Blindness Ohio encourages fellowship applications which investigate public health issues related to the burden of eye-related health and safety topics. For more information, contact Prevent Blindness Ohio at 1-800-301-2020 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To download the application, go to www.preventblindness.org.
Update on state budget cuts
At least 46 states have imposed cuts that hurt vulnerable residents, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. With tax revenue still declining as a result of the recession and budget reserves largely drained, the majority of states have made spending cuts that hurt families and reduce necessary services. Ohio, like most of the states mentioned in the report, has made cuts in all major areas of state services, including health care, services to the elderly and disabled, K-12 education and higher education.