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Money Released for Hoosier CHOICE

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 By Deb Courson SmithContact
June 27, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Hoosiers asked, and the state budget director listened. At first, only about $23 million of the nearly $33 million state legislators set aside for the CHOICE home health care program was released, but budget director Adam Horst has promised it will be funded at the level appropriated, after fielding questions from senior groups, consumer organizations and legislators.

CHOICE helps seniors stay out of nursing homes.

Katie Moreau, associate state director for AARP Indiana, says members are thankful for the decision, because literally thousands want the option of in-home care.

"It's a significant waiting list; I mean, we've got about 7,000 Hoosiers on the waiting list. That's a lot of people for a program. I think that's a sign that it's working."

Moreau says there needs to be a larger debate about long-term care. There's no doubt in her mind that most people want to stay home as long as possible to maintain independence, and be near family, friends and church, but most funding goes towards nursing homes.

Part of the reason is a federal Medicaid match, but Moreau says that, even taking that into account, the fiscally-conservative path points towards in-home care.

"And it has been shown, even through the state government's data, that is more cost-effective than the Medicaid costs involved with nursing home care."

She notes that the level of funding, which is flat from last year, won't erase that waiting list, and as Hoosiers age it will continue to grow.

Doubts about future state revenues were the reason the full funding wasn't released initially.

CHOICE stands for Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled.

Program details are at www.in.gov

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