General Assembly Ohio's Death Panel

It’s become a regular series here on Plunderbund, but now it’s starting to seep into the mainstream media, even the Columbus Dispatch: don’t listen to what Kasich says he’s going to do, because if you watch him you’ll see him do the opposite.

Here’s what Governor Kasich said in his State of the State about the importance of helping seniors stay in their homes:

“If your mom and dad want to stay at home instead of going into a nursing home, we should help make that happen. You get what I’m saying? Mom and dad can stay at home. Instead of going into a nursing home, go and talk to your mom and dad about going in a nursing home sometime. You know what will happen if they can stay at home and get help? They’re going to be happier and more comfortable and taxpayers will save a bundle of money. This has been discussed for decades. It is time to get this done.”
(Applause)

Crazy seniors understood “time to get this done” along with stories about how the nursing home lobby was prepared to take a hit meant that programs that support home care would see additional resources.

Today, the Dispatch points out, not so much:

Kasich’s proposed cuts to Passport are 10.4 percent next year and 6.4 percent in 2013. That includes a 3 percent cut in pay next year to providers, such as aides and day-care workers, and a 15 percent cut next year to area agencies on aging for their operating costs.

Meanwhile Kasich’s budget expects “their caseloads are supposed to increase by 7 percent in 2012 and 2013.”

So higher caseloads with substantially less money.  Meanwhile the nursing home industry is also feeling the budgetary ax.  So how is this “reform” like Kasich says as opposed to just gutting services for seniors?

Greg Moody, director of the Office of Health Transformation, told people at a meeting of the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging yesterday that although Kasich and providers want the same thing, the state faces an $8 billion projected shortfall.

"Our top priority is to avoid waiting lists for these services because that could mean going to a nursing home," Moody said. "But we are growing Passport faster in terms of cost than we are in serving people."

You know who avoided waiting lists for PASSPORT and made it possible for more seniors to get home care instead of being forced into a nursing home?  Governor Ted Strickland.

How can anyone look at these cuts and caseload projections and honestly believe that this won’t bring back waiting lists for PASSPORT?  Now, the cut in payroll, doesn’t that mean the Government is cutting people’s wages?  Kasich revoked a Strickland Administration executive order that permitted these very home health aides to engage in collective bargaining.  Now he’s cutting their wages while demanding that they handle more.

passport-art-gouc80v0-1passport-fs-jpg-large And when asked how this could possibly be called reform, the Governor’s health czar just shrugs his shoulders and says “it’s the budget’s fault.”  Apparently, the Kasich Administration does not believe “now is the time” to keep more seniors in their homes.  Instead, now is the time to force seniors like Brenda Burris to decide which service she needs to give up to assist her with daily living while others sit on a waiting list to receive the assistance they need:

Brenda Burris, 72, has multiple sclerosis and has used a wheelchair for 20 years. She went through her savings and retirement funds to pay for her care.

After spending two months in a nursing home she didn’t like, she enrolled in the Passport program and now lives at Bollinger Towers in the Short North.

She has a health aide visit twice a day, a nurse who comes twice a week, Meals on Wheels delivered, someone to help her pay bills and an emergency response system, if needed.

When asked which service she could do without, Burris said she couldn’t pick one.

That’s okay Ms. Burris.  This gentleman from the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation is here to make the choice for you.  He’s here to help.

Yeah, it’s a good thing for Kasich that seniors don’t vote.

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