Old Colony Elder Services’ (OCES), the Brockton based regional elder services agency serving seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers throughout greater Brockton and Plymouth County, outlines new health reform protection for the elders and people with disabilities.
Last week, the Massachusetts Senate adopted by voice vote an amendment to give elders and disabled individuals enrolled in managed care plans access to an independent long term supports and services (LTSS) coordinator.
The Senate version is slightly different from the House version, but both branches have endorsed the idea that seniors and people with disabilities should have someone on their care team who is not employed by or affiliated with the managed care company, and who can act as an independent “agent” for the managed care member.
This provision has been made part of the health reform legislation and will be part of a federal initiative known in Massachusetts as the ‘Integrated Care Organization’ plan. The ICO plan will affect as many as 115,000 low-income consumers in Massachusetts between ages 21 and 64 covered by Medicare and MassHealth. The ICO plan represents $2.5 billion worth of Medicare and Medicaid services in the Commonwealth.
According to the Senate amendment, the LTSS Coordinator’s responsibilities will include:
· Participating in initial and ongoing assessments of the health and functional status of the member, which includes determining appropriateness for long term care support and services.
· Arranging and coordinating the provision of appropriate institutional and community long term supports and services such as housing, home-delivered meals, transportation.
· Monitoring the appropriate provision and functional outcomes of community long term care services and tracking member satisfaction.
Diana DiGiorgi, Executive Director of OCES explained, “Having a long term support services coordinating agency that is financially independent from the managed care company ensures that there is no conflict of interest. The coordinating agency is an independent entity that can best advocate for the elder or person with disability.”
“This is a critical protection for members of managed care plans,” said Al Norman, Executive Director of Mass Home Care, a supporter of the measure. “Since people with disabilities enroll in these plans on a mandatory basis, they need assurance that someone is acting as their agent on their care team.”
The Senate LTSS amendment was sponsored by Senate Health Care Finance committee Vice Chairman, Senator Brian Joyce (D-Milton), with help from Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth), Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), and Senate Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wrentham).
Incorporated in 1974, Old Colony Elder Services is a private, non-profit corporation designated as one of 27 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES offers a number of programs to serve seniors, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers such as Family Caregiver Support; Adult Family Care; Supportive Housing; Nutrition; Money Management; Protective Services and Home Care. OCES serves elders, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers in 23 communities in Southeastern Massachusetts: Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.
The organization’s mission is to provide services that support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health; and, prevent unnecessary or premature institutionalization. For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at www.oldcolonyelderservices.org.