STATEHOUSE-There has been a considerable amount of clamoring in recent days about funding for the CHOICE home health care program. Some advocacy groups, including the association representing the regional Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) that administer the CHOICE program, have claimed that the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) plans to reduce CHOICE funding below current fiscal year (FY) 2011 levels in the upcoming fiscal year.
"We have reviewed these claims with state budget agency officials and FSSA, and cannot verify these claims. In fact, they appear to be incorrect," stated Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale).
Much of the confusion 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.
"Funding for the CHOICE program in FY 2012 will be equal to the amount of funding made available in FY 2011," said Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville). "It is important to remember that the executive branch has the authority to reduce funding in all areas of the budget when the need arises, and that could occur in the future if revenue shortfalls occur."
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 FY 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 FY 2012 would be the same as in FY 2011.
"FSSA's intentions were clearly communicated to the AAAs, so there should have been no surprises," said Sen. Kenley.
"It is my hope that this brief explanation has shed some much needed light on this issue," said Rep. Espich.