AARP is pleased to see the governor is proposing a state budget that will strengthen access to both health care and services that allow Ohioans to live independently at home as they age, said Bill Sundermeyer, who leads state legislative advocacy for AARP Ohio. Following are his comments on those and other AARP priority issues:
Medicaid Expansion – AARP Ohio is pleased that the Governor is proposing to continue funding the availability of Medicaid assistance to those at or below 138% of poverty. We would be among the first to support a solid plan to assist those Ohioans living in poverty and the values to providing a quality program to assist individuals in the struggle to get out of poverty. We want to understand the proposals being brought forth by members of the legislature and will be offering our reactions as well as our ideas on how these programs can maximize their impact. Some individuals may believe these programs can be successful with little economic investment and can be easily achieved. We do believe these programs must be comprehensive, funded properly and have an assurance of continued efforts recognizing that those honestly struggling may have temporary setbacks before making it to a point of economic stability.
Living Independently -- Access to a comprehensive program for Ohioans to live independently as they age has become more of a reality over the past six years. It is estimated that by July 2015 over 60% of individuals who wish to remain in their homes will be able to get the assistance they need to do so. Six years ago that was true for less than 20% of older Ohioans who needed assistance to remain living at home. Polling data indicates that between 75% and 90% of Ohioans hope they can remain in their home as they age. One of the important factors in continuing in this direction is making it possible for family caregivers to provide assistance. As technology increases, and as people live longer, it has become more important that family caregivers are provided with training, support, and opportunities to ensure their own continued health and employment so that they are able to provide for themselves while caring for other members of their families. The key to the economic savings to the state which have resulted from ensuring that those Ohioans wishing to remain in their home can do so is the availability of family caregivers. We must look carefully at the issues which impact their ability to care for their family members and assist them in ways that allow them to care for their family members. AARP will be bringing forward more information and strategies for impacting these issues in the coming weeks and months.
Adult Protective Services -- Ohio made significant efforts at starting to improve the availability of Adult Protective Services regardless of where individuals live. The revenues to begin this endeavor were included in the recent Mid-Biennium Budget Review but a program of ensured economic supports must be a part of the upcoming budget and the budgets which follow the one under discussion in the coming weeks and months. Included in the recommendations were incentives to encourage counties to look at more efficient and effective ways for providing this vital protection to our citizens who are a greater risk of being physically, emotionally and financially abused. We can no longer require the need for these services but continue the past shifting of revenues needed to the county table. Ways of working more efficiently and trying and shaping some innovative methods can certainly be helpful.
More issues will certainly surface in the coming weeks and months. We will be monitoring evaluating and advocating on the issues discussed herein and those which impact our 1.5 million members statewide and all Ohioans age 50 and over.