[r31] Mahan Messenger: A miscommunication ends on a good note (6/22/2011)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Start Date: 6/22/2011 All Day
End Date: 6/22/2011

I am sure you have heard just as much talk lately about CHOICE, FSSA and AAAs as I have-and yes, those are a lot acronyms to keep up with. The discussion deals with funding and whether or not a program is getting what they were promised.

Unfortunately, in this economy, the topic of funding cuts has become a harsh reality and a common topic of conversation. However, unlike most times, this story ends on a good note.

CHOICE is Indiana's Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled. They have been in the news quite a bit lately because of a misunderstanding that they wouldn't receive the amount of funding they were promised.

This, however, is not the case.

Last week, CHOICE advocates accused the state of trying to cut the program by giving less funding to the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs)that administer the home health care services. A spokesman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) quickly clarified that the state does intend to give the same funding AAAs received last year and have no plans to cut the program.

Early this year, however, the governor did propose significant cuts in the program and asked the General Assembly for permission to transfer all CHOICE dollars to pay for a similar Medicaid program that is partially funded by the federal government.

However, we decided against his recommendations and chose to continue supporting CHOICE. As a result, we approved flat funding for the program, while giving FSSA some latitude to transfer additional dollars to Medicaid.

The miscommunication over the issue stems from the fact that FSSA-at the request of the AAAs-took the unusual step of issuing CHOICE contracts a full month earlier than normal this year. 

At the time, the contract amounts had not yet been finalized, so the initial contracts were issued for an amount that was less than the roughly $28 million awarded in 2011.  After issuing the initial contracts, FSSA officials informed the AAAs that the contracts would be amended so that the total funding for the CHOICE program in 2012 would be the same as in 2011. 

Although it took some time to clarify and straighten this situation out, I am glad it was resolved. CHOICE receives the funding they were promised.