Life with COVID-19 is hard for everyone, but especially for older adults. Throughout the pandemic, Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio has worked hard to ensure continuity of services for individuals already enrolled in our programs and thousands more who never before needed help.
In partnership with our provider network, we were able to deliver more than 21,000 shelf stable meal boxes and over 62,000 restaurant comfort meals to older adults in our service area (and counting).
In addition to delivering meals, we provided PPE, personal care supplies and other key services in partnership with our provider network.
Our local providers empower individuals who choose safe, dignified, independent living to be able to receive the care they deserve from the safety of their home. Our local providers also offer more cost-effective care when compared to other alternatives.
Unfortunately, the providers that make up the home and community-based system are struggling to stay operational. For our partners, Medicaid reimbursement rates have failed to keep up with the cost of doing business.
In fact, the reimbursement rates today are slightly less than they were in 1998. This has created a situation where providers are considering leaving the Medicaid program, closing their doors or moving to a neighboring state, leaving a shortage of providers in our community.
While in-home care may not be the answer for everyone, it should be accessible to those who choose to receive care at home.
The state of Ohio needs to invest in home and community-based services now, or Ohioans may lose the freedom to choose how and where they receive care as they age.
In Council on Aging’s 50 years of service, one thing has remained constant: people want to remain in their homes as they age. Ohioans need viable alternatives to congregate care facilities, as well as a system that can support safe transitions out of institutional care.
Council on Aging strongly supports all our local partners who have been keeping our older neighbors safe through in-home services, and we implore the state to financially support home and community-based services in the upcoming state operating budget.
Suzanne Burke is Chief Executive Officer of Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio.