Ohio is pumping more money into home- and community-based care over the next two years, a move that pushes the state closer to equalized spending with nursing home care.
The biennial budget passed earlier this summer included $532 million above current spending on Medicaid home- and community-based services. Since July, that's meant more money for Medicaid programs that pay for services to help people stay in their homes longer.
See also: Resources for caregivers.
The state says the additional money will shift spending for home and community services from about 36 percent of the long-term care budget to just over 42 percent by the middle of 2013, with the balance going to institutional care. Nursing home care costs three to four times as much as in-home care.
Gov. John Kasich, R, championed the changes. He said they reflect what older Ohioans want: to stay in their homes as long as possible.
"Older Ohioans deserve respect and independence and comfort and health," Kasich told the AARP Bulletin. "If we can help provide that kind of care, it not only saves money for your children and grandchildren — who are taxpayers also — but you or your parents are going to be happier and more comfortable."
Nearly 13,000 more Ohioans — older people and those with disabilities — will be able to receive home care thanks to the additional money for services. People qualify if their income is low enough to be Medicaid-eligible and if they require the level of care provided in a nursing home.
People 60 and older will see the greatest impact through the state's PASSPORT program, which provides in-home help with services from bathing and dressing to transportation and some medical checks.
Agencies are gearing up to enroll an additional 4,800 people 60 and older in the program over the next two years, said Larke Recchie, executive director of the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging.