Tuesday, April 12, 2011

State Watch: Backing the Buckeyes

April 12, 2011

Vernell Moore, who calls Medicaid "the best insurance in Ohio," fears what
changes may come if Gov. John Kasich overhauls the system.
Photo by Gus Chan, The Plain Dealer.
After Ohio Governor John Kasich recently announced his plan to cut Medicaid services to skilled nursing facilities, our friend and colleague at the Ohio Health Care Association wrote a winning column this weekend detailing how such cuts would damage care to the frail elderly.

Peter Van Runkle, Executive Director of the OHCA, skillfully explains that while Gov. Kasich attempts to allow more seniors to stay at home, instead of turning to nursing care, many elderly require round-the-clock care that only a nursing facility can provide.

“[The governor’s budget] simply drains resources for caring for the sickest of the sick, who need to be in skilled nursing facilities — Ohioans who temporarily or permanently cannot stay at home.”

Van Runkle also points out the significant economic impact Medicaid cuts would have on nursing facilities, with the potential for more than 7,000 job losses across the state. What happens to seniors’ nursing care when these Ohio care givers are let go? The quality of care that these facilities provide is threatened.

“Call lights will not be answered as quickly. Patients will not get medication as soon as they need it. They will not be turned and repositioned as often. Their basic care will be delayed, and significant, measurable quality improvements that Ohio's skilled nursing facilities have achieved will be reversed.”

What’s more, Kasich wants to expand the eligibility for the state’s home and community-based program for long-term care, Passport, but cut the funding.

“The plan calls for cutting monthly per member funding for Passport by $33.4 million in 2012 and $65.4 million in 2013, according to a study by the Cleveland-based Center for Community Solutions.”

States around the country face a real challenge in making their budgets balance, but it shouldn’t be on the backs of our nation’s seniors. Props to our good friends at the Ohio Health Care Association for speaking up for Ohio’s frail elderly and individuals with disabilities who deserve nothing but the utmost care.

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