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Ohio Department of Aging Director's Testimony

Feb. 23, 2011

Testimony before the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee

Bonnie Kantor-Burman, Director, Ohio Department of Aging

Chairman Oelslager and members of the Committee, I am Bonnie Kantor-Burman, and I am here today to tell you a little about myself and the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA).

Director Kantor-BurmanPrior to joining ODA, I most recently served as the Executive Director of the Pioneer Network, the national center for the development of person-centered, long-term care delivery systems and supports. For 15 years before that, I served as the director of the Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology at The Ohio State University Medical Center. There, I was responsible for training the next generation of providers to care responsively and cost effectively for our state's aging population.

Person-centered care, or care that is individualized and promotes choice and autonomy, is my personal and professional passion. I have seen the genuine differences that person-centered approaches have made, and are making, for elders and their families, our providers, our state and nation. What we know is that the kind of care people want, that is true person-centered care, produces the best outcomes in terms of both quality and cost.

Thus, while you often hear folks talk about the changing demographics of our state (that is, the aging of our population) as a challenge, we in the Department of Aging and in the Office of Health Transformation, see it as an opportunity as well - an opportunity to create, implement and then sustain new cost-effective and responsive policies and approaches and services for our elders and others needing services and supports.

As you just heard, one of the core initiatives of the Office of Health Transformation is the rebalancing of our State's long-term care system. Since the Department of Aging is dedicated to providing choice, independence and quality of life for aging Ohioans, our home- and community-based programs and policies are central to this rebalancing and cost savings effort. In fact, for more than two and one-half decades, the Ohio Department of Aging has been the leader in creating responsive long-term care options so that our elders can receive cost effective care - that is, the right care at the right time - which can produce the best outcomes.

Working through a network of area agencies on aging and local providers and partners, ODA manages community-based long-term care programs that enable seniors and adults with disabilities who meet a nursing home level of need to remain at home or in their communities at approximately one-third the cost of institutional care, saving our taxpayers money and our state valuable resources. These programs include PASSPORT, Choices, the Assisted Living waiver and PACE. PASSPORT is one of the largest Medicaid waiver programs of its kind in the country, serving nearly 32,000 consumers annually. Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University has estimated that PASSPORT alone provides work for 40,000 home health care workers. ODA also houses the Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman, charged with safeguarding the rights of consumers of long-term care and other services throughout the state.

Beyond Medicaid waiver-funded long-term care, ODA and its partners manage a comprehensive and coordinated system of community services for seniors and their caregivers, using federal Older Americans Act dollars and related state and local funds. Home delivered and congregate meals, education, transportation, nutrition consultation, chronic disease self-management training and other supportive programs and services allow us to serve older adults and their caregivers at different points along the aging continuum and help them maintain their physical health and manage chronic conditions. By further encouraging and incentivizing disease prevention, health promotion and self-care strategies throughout the life span, we are helping our current and future generations of older adults and individuals with disabilities remain independent longer, thus reducing the number of people relying unnecessarily or prematurely on Medicaid.

At the Department of Aging, we fully embrace the opportunity to work with all other departments involved in the Office of Health Transformation's effort to design and implement evidence-based initiatives that address the complexities of Medicare, Medicaid and where appropriate, health care reform, in ways that meet the needs of both our aging population and our state's taxpayers. We can and will meet the challenge. I personally look forward to working with you, the members of the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, to meet the needs of our aging population, those who built our great state, in the most cost effective manner. I invite you to contact me directly at any time or through the Department's new legislative liaison, Jennifer Seidel, who is here with me today.

Thank you all for your time today. During this brief presentation I could only illustrate a few of our Department's efforts to promote choice, independence, quality of life and home- and community-based care options for our elders in ways that will directly contain the growth in our state's Medicaid budget. I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have about these or other Department initiatives.

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