CHOICE Home Care
The Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled (CHOICE) program has served tens of thousands of Hoosiers and their family caregivers since its passage by the 1987 General Assembly. On countless occasions, CHOICE has been a vital service to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. It allows people who require just a few hours of care each day to remain in their homes with part time assistance, rather than being forced prematurely into round-the-clock nursing facilities.
In the first half of the 2013 Indiana General Assembly, three bills to strengthen home and community based services died in committee. The good news is that this year the state budget bill, HB1001, provides full funding for the CHOICE home care program. Throughout the years, CAC has fought to maintain full funding for CHOICE. We need the Senate Appropriations Committee to join the House of Representatives in wisely funding CHOICE at $48,765,643 per year for each year of the new budget beginning July 1, 2013.
CHOICE is more cost-effective than nursing home care!
- Nursing facilities: In 2012, the average yearly cost of nursing home care paid for through Medicaid was $47,000 per person. The state paid $11,680 and the federal government paid $35,351. (FSSA 2012 Annual Report on CHOICE)
- CHOICE: In 2012, the average yearly cost of services through the CHOICE program was around $9,000 per person. (FSSA 2012 Annual Report on CHOICE)
However, the House version of HB1001 will allow the state to use up to $18,000,000 for Medicaid waiver match for each year of the new budget cycle. Medicaid waivers help people live at home or in a residential community if that care can be obtained at a lower cost than at a nursing home. Any dollars taken from CHOICE for Medicaid waivers are simply reducing the total number of CHOICE dollars being spent for home care and overall reducing the number of people served by both programs. Indiana needs to increase its spending for both CHOICE and Medicaid waiver home care services. This will reduce the state’s overutilization of far more expensive Medicaid funded nursing home care and ensure that more people will be able to access these services.
Due to growing demand and need for CHOICE services throughout the state, few or no CHOICE dollars should be used for Medicaid match. According to FSSA, 5,040 people were served last year by the CHOICE program. Another 6,000 people are on the waiting list for CHOICE services.
People overwhelmingly say they do not want to end up in nursing homes. The CHOICE program helps protect the dignity and independence of our elderly and disabled and saves Indiana money in the long run.
Especially in these hard economic times, Indiana cannot afford to reduce its investment in home and community based services like the CHOICE program.
As a society, we are only as strong as the least among us. CHOICE is the right direction for Indiana. It helps thousands of people stay out of nursing homes and saves Indiana taxpayers significantly. Our elderly and disabled are relying on us to make sure that they can live with dignity in the later years of their lives.