The Generations Project was established in 2001 to call attention to the dilemma facing Hoosiers with long term health care needs. A collaborative effort of leading consumer based organizations, The Project seeks to educate citizens, advocates, and policy makers about the opportunities for Hoosiers to implement a balanced and responsible long term care system.
CHOICE Funding: The Session Is Not Over Yet
“The CHOICE home care program saves taxpayers and the state large sums of money, and helps people to remain safe and independent in their own homes. That is a square deal for all Hoosiers.” Mark St. John, senior policy representative for The Generations Project
As of this writing on Monday, March 23, 2015 funding for the CHOICE, Indiana’s outstanding home health care program, is written into the state’s pending biennial budget legislation for $48,765,643 annually. That is good news.
However, the 2015 General Assembly must end before the close of April. That means citizens must stay alert to any possible changes in legislation pending before the legislature. The legislation that contains funding for the CHOICE program is House Bill (HB) 1001. That legislation is presently before the Indiana State Senate. Once the Senate has concluded its work on HB 1001 a conference committee composed of two House members and two Senate members will work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation. Once a combined House and Senate version of HB 1001 is agreed upon that final version of the legislation must be voted on by the full membership of both the House and the Senate. Once that happens, the bill will be sent to Governor Pence to sign it into law. If the Governor chooses to veto the bill a simple majority of the House and Senate can override the veto. Governor Pence is not expected to veto HB 1001.
It is important to remember the Senate can still make changes in HB 1001, or the bill can be changed by the House – Senate conference committee on HB 1001 once the Senate has concluded its work on the legislation. These changes can happen very quickly. So it is important to watch for Legislative Alerts from The Generations Project and/or the Indiana Home Care Task Force, and to stay in touch with your friends in the General Assembly.
HB 1001 will establish a new two year budget cycle that begins July 1, 2015.
The language in the budget bill that details how dollars appropriated for CHOICE can be spent allows the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), through its Division of Aging, to spend up to eighteen million per year in CHOICE funds as the state’s share of the matching dollars that Indiana must provide to draw down federal dollars through the Medicaid aged and disabled waiver for home health care services. The home and community based services that are funded by CHOICE and the Medicaid aged and disabled waiver are generally the same although CHOICE does fund some services not covered by the waiver, serves a somewhat wider spectrum of people, and its administrative flexibility and very low costs save taxpayers and the state significant sums of money. The home and community based services funded by CHOICE and the Medicaid aged and disabled waiver are administered locally in Indiana by the state’s sixteen area agencies on aging.
“So far, we are pleased with the dollars that are in the state budget for the CHOICE program, and reducing the number of CHOICE dollars that can be used for Medicaid match from $21 million to $18 million per year is a significant improvement. We would like to see the use of CHOICE dollars for Medicaid match reduced even further because Hoosiers still need every dollar that is available for CHOICE in order to reduce the number of people who are forced to use nursing home care. Nonetheless, the state budget bill, HB 1001, represents real improvement when it comes to the CHOICE program and we are grateful to the General Assembly, FSSA, and the state administration for this progress,” stated John Cardwell, the founder of The Generations Project (TGP) and past chairperson of the Indiana Home Care Task Force.
Mark St. John, senior public policy representative for TGP and current Task Force legislative chair, added: “It is important for members of the Indiana Home Care Task Force to remain vigilant during the remaining days of the 2015 General Assembly. Citizens must continue to have friendly email and personal conversations with their State Senators and Representatives regarding the importance of the CHOICE program to their families and themselves. CHOICE saves taxpayers and the state large sums of money, and helps people to remain safe and independent in their own homes. That improves the quality of life for everyone living in Indiana and helps to keep families together. That is a square deal for all Hoosiers.”
Citizens wishing to contact members of the Indiana General Assembly are urged to do so by contacting the Indiana State Senate or the Indiana House of Representatives. See the article below for more information regarding the General Assembly and Governor Pence.
How to Reach Members of the Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Pence
Persons wishing to contact members of the Indiana General Assembly or Governor Mike Pence can do so as follows.
You can also Google the Indiana General Assembly, 2015 Session in order to reach the website for the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana State Senate. The website will allow you to track all action on the bills (legislation) pending before the 2015 General Assembly. The website allows you to read the content of legislation when it was introduced for the 2015 session and any subsequent changes in a piece of legislation.
SEIU Health Care Issues Grant to The Generations Project
The Generations Project (TGP) is proud to announce the receipt of a grant from SEIU Health Care of Illinois and Indiana in the amount of $15,000 for 2015. “’We are pleased to receive this grant and to continue our positive partnership with SEIU Health Care,” said Elmer Blankenship, President of the TGP Board of Governors.
President Blankenship added: “TGP and SEIU are keenly aware that for home health care to work at its best there must be full trust and communications between home care consumers, their family caregivers, and professional home care workers. The joint education programs between TGP and SEIU Health Care help to empower the citizens of Indiana that need high quality home care and contribute to an improved working environment for caregivers. Those are necessary conditions in order to protect consumers, home care workers, and Indiana taxpayers. Thanks again to Yin Kyi and her team at SEIU Health Care.”
The Generations Project Welcomes Mark St. John
In January, The Generations Project was pleased to welcome Mark St. John as the organization’s legislative and public policy representative. Since that time Mark has represented TGP and the Indiana Home Care Task Force at the General Assembly and in communications with public agencies. Mark is doing a wide array of policy and education tasks that were heretofore done by TGP founder, John Cardwell, who resigned from an active staff role at the end of December. John is continuing his involvement with TGP as a board member. As a volunteer, John will continue to manage certain business and policy tasks for the project. Regarding Mark, John Cardwell said: “The Generations Project is very fortunate to have the services of Mark St. John. He is an experienced, smart and savvy advocate, and will serve the organization, and most importantly, senior citizens and persons with disabilities competently and with determination in the public policy arena.”
According to Elmer Blankenship, board president, “Engaging the services of Mark St. John is an important investment in the future and the mission of The Generations Project. He will serve us well.”
Mark St. John is the Principal of St. John & Associates, a governmental affairs group representing clients before the Indiana General Assembly, state agencies, and municipal government.
Mark’s career includes more than 30 years of ongoing services to social / human service needs populations, including abused and neglected children, at-risk youth, homeless persons, families in distress, migrant and seasonal farmworkers, persons with HIV/AIDS, people with mental illness, senior citizens, and people with disabilities.
A graduate of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Mark has been extensively involved in a number of professional and community organizations, including the Children’s Coalition of Indiana, Citizens Health Center, Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis; Equality Federation / Equality Federation Institute, Governmental Affairs Society of Indiana, Indiana Affordable Housing Conference, Indiana Association for Community Economic Development, Indiana Civil Rights Commission Fair Housing Task Force, Indiana Coalition for Human Services, Indiana Stonewall Democrats, King Park Area Development Corporation, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, Mozel Sanders Foundation Thanksgiving Dinner, Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP, Optimist Club of Indianapolis, Pathway to Recovery (transitional housing program), PathStone, Inc (multi-state community development corporation), State of Indiana Electronic Benefits Transfer Commission, and the State of Indiana HUD Consolidated Plan Coordinating Committee.
Long Term Care in Indiana: Human Rights and Long Term Care
by John Cardwell, The Generations Project Board Member
There is too much talk these days that superficially suggests people get high quality publicly financed long term care in the Hoosier state. The state’s health indicators do not support such conclusions. Indiana remains by most measures a very unhealthy place to live and to grow old.
It is especially true for persons of modest to few means who seek health and attendant care services in order to remain independent, safe and as healthy as possible in their own homes. These are individuals and couples of all ages that for reasons of disease, accidents, physical impairments, cognitive disorders, or multiple disabilities cannot live at home without some level of assistance. Sometimes that assistance is medical care, in other cases it is attendant care, or a combination of both. Independence at home can be as simple as modifying a person’s physical environment, or help with shopping and preparing meals, or the provision of transportation.
Independence and freedom at home must also include complex and demanding care that is provided 24/7. Today, there are virtually no technical and medical reasons for denying home and community based services to any individual that wants and needs those services.
Independence at home can be any and all of these things, and much more, but above all else it is the maintenance and protection of the most fundamental rights of people. It is a human rights issue in the full cultural, social and legal contexts associated with that term. In a word, it means stopping the practice of putting persons in institutions against their will, stopping the practice of denying the provision of home and community based services when those services are necessary to maintain a person’s independence and freedom in their own home. Fundamental health care human rights, means clearly and forcefully protecting the rights of persons with disabilities to maintain full control over their own lives.
In Indiana there have been attempts since 2010 by individuals and organizations to persuade the General Assembly to pass legislation to establish in law the basic human rights of citizens that use publicly funded home and community based services. The language has been drafted by The Generations Project at the behest of the members of the Indiana Home Care Task Force and legislation has been introduced. So far it has not moved through the General Assembly and there is no human rights bill pending in 2015.
However, until saying out of institutions is established as an inviolate universal human right it will be difficult to protect persons with disabilities from the grasping and nefarious behavior of others. Until that happens it will be difficult to put in place and fund the services that will guarantee the availability of quality and affordable home and community based services at the moment when such services are needed to prevent forced institutionalization.
The status quo needs to be challenged and changed.
To that end, The Generations Project and the Indiana Home Care Task Force have been engaged in positive and promising discussions with the state Division of Aging since late 2014. These discussions are clearly necessary and are focused on the real challenges facing senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and their family caregivers that need substantial help now through the CHOICE home care program and via like services funded through the Medicaid aged and disabled waiver and other public programs.
Nonetheless, these discussions are not enough.
When it comes to long term care and human rights change will only happen when substantial numbers of people who care and are affected by these issues begin to talk, first to each other, their families and their neighbors, and then in calls for basic change that are placed at the feet of our elected leaders. When these things happen then change can happen quickly.
In Indiana such change has happened in the past…the CHOICE program is proof of that. Yes, change can happen, human rights can be secured for all Hoosiers who need home and community based services, but we must talk to, listen to, and engage everyone we can, and then act.
Why We Have Joined the Raise the Wage Coalition
Raising the minimum wage is a crucial component to improving the lives of persons who need home health care and community based services. The Generations Project , Hoosiers First and United Senior Action have joined the Raise the Wage coalition because too many home care and nursing home workers are grossly underpaid and forced to work with few viable benefits. That leads to high rates of turnover among those workers…and that puts people who depend on them for their health, safety, dignity and freedom at risk. Without a doubt economic justice and health justice in Indiana and throughout America are absolutely linked. To our readers and supporters we ask them to join their fellow Hoosiers and Americans in calling for wages to be raised. Raise the Wage!
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