Letter: Common sense program for elderly in jeopardy

First Posted: 7/1/2009

President Obama recently spoke about how pleased he was that his "beloved grandmother" was able to die at home. I share his sentiment. Be aware that the budget scenario now playing out in Columbus is counter to that sentiment. Programs that provide home care to disabled elderly are on the chopping block like PASSPORT, home-delivered meals, and medical transportation that provide nursing home level of care at home to more than 3,000 seniors in our region.

PASSPORT is one of the common sense programs in Ohio. It saves by preventing unnecessary nursing-home placements. It keeps seniors home, preserving their dignity, privacy and independence. Taxpayers note: PASSPORT costs about $12,000 per person annually and nursing homes about $52,000. If PASSPORT is cut, Ohio's frail elderly will go onto a waiting list that will grow to an estimated 10,000 people by 2011. They cannot wait. They will be forced into nursing homes and taxpayers will pay for those who convert to Medicaid within three to six months after entering. Do you want to shoulder that cost? Well, in Ohio, you will because of the strong nursing home lobby that has been able to preserve our state's costly institutional bias.

Studies show if the state would balance home care and nursing facility care, we would save $750 to $900 million a year. This requires lawmakers to stand up to the strong nursing home lobby. Other states have figured out that citizens deserve choice in where they receive their long-term care and by shifting from an institutional bias, saved Medicaid dollars.

See this for the travesty it is. Your grandmother deserves to die at home if she chooses like the president's.

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