Ohio goal: single entry point for long-term care

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Last month, hundreds of professionals in the fields of aging and disability services gathered in Columbus for the first Aging and Disability Network Summit. The purpose was to learn from both Ohio and national experts about how to develop a robust and easy-to-navigate network of long-term services and supports that can be accessed by anyone, regardless of their age or the nature of their disability. The Summit was presented by the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging (o4a) and the Ohio Department of Aging with support from the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

The Summit helped people better understand Ohio’s version of the Affordable Care Act’s Balanced Incentive Program (BIP). BIP will launch in Ohio in January. The state received $169 million in federal funds to help reach of the goal of spending at least 50 percent of its Medicaid long-term care budget on non-institutional care (home and community-based alternatives).

This 50-50 balance is an important goal for a state that has a long traditional of tilting its Medicaid spending in favor of nursing homes. This has been true in Ohio even though many people can safely receive long-term services in their own homes – which they prefer – and at far less cost to taxpayers.

At one time, nearly 90 percent of Medicaid-funded long-term care in Ohio was delivered in nursing homes. Today, as in-home services have grown, Ohio’s nursing home percentage is approximately 57 percent. Some states – Oregon is often cited as a model – are well under a 50 percent spending percentage on institutional care.

BIP will bring several changes to Ohio’s long-term care system. One of the most important is the creation of a single entry point/no wrong door system for people seeking long-term services and supports. The regional entry points will be the Aging and Disability Resource Networks (ADRNs) operated by Ohio’s 12 Area Agencies on Aging, including Council on Aging.

Features will include a statewide toll-free telephone number and a statewide web site through which people can enter the system, learn about and navigate to their options, and receive a standardized assessment of their eligibility for publicly-funded services.

Council on Aging will continue to grow as an ADRN and will continue to serve as our region’s central, unbiased “front door” to services and community resources. That front door is a busy place. In 2014, our call center has averaged 5,525 inquiries per month, up from 4,300 per month in 2013. Some of this increase is due to calls concerning implementation of MyCare Ohio, the new managed care system for individuals receiving both Medicare and Medicaid.

To read more about BIP, the Aging and Disability Network Summit and to see some of the presentations posted on line, visit the o4a website.