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Long-Term Care Tops AARP Agenda

AARP’s 834,000 Hoosier members count on AARP to amplify their voices on health and financial security, consumer protection and livable communities at the Indiana Statehouse. Our volunteer Legislative Team will lead the charge, under the able direction of Public Policy Director Paul Chase.

Also mark your calendars for Senior Rally Day on March 29, when older Hoosiers across Indiana will descend on the Statehouse to speak their minds. Check here later for more details or visit us on Facebook.

Here’s a look at some of our 2011 legislative priorities.

Ensure crucial funding for home and community-based care

Indiana’s signature home-care program, called CHOICE, is under fire again. FSSA wants to cut the annual CHOICE budget by $9.4 million per year starting July 2011. That’s 20 percent of the current state budget for home and community-based care, or enough to serve 1,323 of the more than 10,000 Hoosiers on home-care waiting lists.

The cuts are being proposed even though the annual CHOICE report says “the CHOICE program continues to be a cost-effective way to provided needed services to Hoosiers.”

FSSA also reports that the average CHOICE client is an 85-year-old woman who lives alone, has significant medical needs and struggles with daily activities such as personal care, cooking and housekeeping.

Our message to lawmakers: Don’t balance the budget on her back. Home and community-based services help her live independently in her own home, at a fraction of the cost of nursing home care.

Improve nursing home quality

Indiana lags the nation in nursing home quality, as detailed in our AARP Bulletin Today article.

We had more “most poorly performing” nursing facilities in 2009 – 52 – than any other state, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found only 57 of Indiana’s 500-plus nursing homes without deficiencies, while citing 46 for immediate jeopardy, meaning residents had been seriously injured, harmed or had died.

AARP backs legislation requiring national criminal background checks for all health care workers involved in patient care, whether licensed, unlicensed or certified.

We also support expanded options counseling requirements at hospitals and nursing homes, so patients are linked to Area Agency on Aging resources and home and community-based services.

And we’ll push to link any increases in nursing home quality assessment fees to actual quality improvements, and to ensure a portion of those fees buy additional Medicaid waiver slots.

Livable Communities

Never heard of it? It’s a national movement to broaden available options in housing, mobility and community services wherever people choose to age.

We’re focused on mobility, under an umbrella heading called Complete Streets. Complete Streets policies advance the simple goal of making our streets and intersections more user friendly for people of all ages who walk, bike, drive or ride the bus.

Lawmakers should require INDOT to incorporate Complete Streets policies as new roads are planned and designed, and they also should adopt legislation that boosts transit development across Indiana.

Just for fun

AARP Indiana is backing the Indiana Citizens Redistricting commission to maximize the voices of average Hoosiers in the 2011 legislative redistricting process that will define congressional and state legislative districts for the next 10 years. AARP State President Clyde Hall will serve on the commission.

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