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West Side Senior News & Notes

1/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Ohio reaches agreement on coordinated care program for seniors

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich’s administration announced Ohio has reached an agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on a new initiative to better coordinate care for individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Ohio is just the third state — after Massachusetts and Washington — to finalize such an agreement with CMS and only the second to use a managed care approach, according to Kasich’s office.

“This agreement puts Ohio at the cutting edge of care coordination in the country,” said Kasich. “Better care coordination across the state means healthier Ohioans, and it will also help in driving down costs in the long run.”

According to Kasich’s office, the Office of Medical Assistance (Ohio Medicaid), under the leadership of Director John McCarthy, has worked with federal officials to create an Integrated Care Delivery System (ICDS) to comprehensively manage the full continuum of benefits for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees. Longterm services and supports, behavioral-health services and physical-health services are at the center of the finalized pact.

The ICDS will be launched as a three-year demonstration project in seven geographic regions covering 29 Ohio counties and approximately 114,000 individuals, according to Kasich’s office.

“We hope to make the most out of this opportunity, and we are eager to continue working with the federal government and Ohio stakeholders in the coming months to implement this new program,” said McCarthy.

According to Kasich’s office, because Medicaid and Medicare are currently designed and implemented with virtually no connection to each other, the services that are provided to Medicare-Medicaid enrollees are poorly coordinated, leading to diminished quality of care, poor health outcomes for individuals and high costs for the Medicaid system and taxpayers. In Ohio, approximately 180,000 dually eligible individuals make up only 14 percent of Medicaid enrollment, but these individuals account for 40 percent of total Medicaid spending. The development of the ICDS is a cornerstone of the state’s ongoing efforts to improve access and quality while simultaneously containing the growing costs of Medicaid, according to Kasich’s office.

A coalition of stakeholders and advocates worked with state officials in finalizing the terms of the ICDS agreement, including representatives from the aging community, according to Kasich’s office.

“In partnering with the state, Ohio’s Area Agencies on Aging will offer our expertise and experience to promote independent living and better health for Ohio’s older adults and people with disabilities,” said Larke Recchie, executive director of the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “By focusing on the needs of the individual and coordinating care, the ICDS plan has the potential to improve quality of care for lower income aging adults while helping to save taxpayer money.”

In August, Ohio selected five health plans — Aetna, Buckeye, CareSource, Molina and United — to help manage and coordinate the care of Medicare-Medicaid enrollees in the ICDS. Ohio Medicaid will launch Ohio’s ICDS program in 29 counties Sept. 1, according to Kasich’s office.

A division of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohio Medicaid administers the state’s Medicaid program and provides health coverage to 2.2 million Ohioans with low incomes through a network of 75,000 health-care providers, according to Kasich’s office. Greg Moody, director of the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation, recently announced plans to transform Ohio Medicaid from a division of ODJFS into a cabinet-level state agency effective July 1, 2014, according to Kasich’s office.

For more information, visit www.healthtransformation.ohio.gov.


Golden Buckeye program helping seniors with social media

COLUMBUS — The Golden Buckeye program offers tips and information pertinent to seniors on its page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/ohiogoldenbuckeye.

According to Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) officials, followers of the page will learn about participating businesses across the state, get advice for healthy and active living and learn about state and community programs and resources, according to ODA officials.

“Working together, we help older adults and people with disabilities live healthy, independent and rewarding lives,” said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the ODA, which operates the Golden Buckeye program. “We are using new media tools and partnerships to empower our elders and strengthen our communities as we adapt to serve our growing and changing older population.”

Business and community leaders can follow and interact with the page to reach new customers and learn about resources that can help them integrate the needs of their aging customers and residents into their plans and services, according to ODA officials.

More than 2 million Ohioans are eligible for the Golden Buckeye card, honored at 20,000 businesses statewide, according to ODA officials. Golden Buckeye cardholders have saved an estimated $2 billion since the program’s launch in 1976. All Ohioans age 60 or older, as well as adults age 18-59 who have disabilities as defined by Social Security, are eligible for a free Golden Buckeye card, according to ODA officials.

For more information, visit www.GoldenBuckeye.com.


Kathleen Collins contributed to these reports.

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