Letter to the Editor

FSSA responds to article

Sunday, August 17, 2008

To the Editor:

To say I was surprised after reading the article "Fight for Rights," that appeared in The Brazil Times on Aug. 12, 2008, would be an understatement.

The story, while chronicling the difficulties of a disabled woman, contained so many inaccurate and false statements that I feel as though I must set the record straight.

The article referred to the difficulties a client was experiencing with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration's (FSSA's) Medicaid Attendant Care Waiver Program. No such program exists within FSSA's umbrella of programs. What the article was likely referring to is the Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver.

While we are unable to comment about the specifics of this particular client's case due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) privacy rule, we are able to discuss the success we have seen with this particular waiver.

Medicaid Waiver programs, unlike traditional Medicaid services, are not entitlement programs and are comprised of services and eligibility standards determined by each state and are dependent upon federal approval. Under the Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver, services clients receive are typically expanded to include wrap-around services that are not offered under traditional Medicaid. One example of a wrap-around service under this waiver is homemaker services, which includes cleaning, grocery shopping and meal preparation. This program was designed to give clients the additional support they may need in order to live independently in their community, rather than in a traditional institutional care setting such as a nursing facility.

Perhaps the most egregious error within the article published on Aug. 12, was the statement that "budget cuts at the state level" were responsible for cuts in services. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, FSSA's Division of Aging has consistently increased funds for this program. Within the past fiscal year, funding allocated for the Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver has increased by an additional $26 million. This increase had made it possible for FSSA to serve approximately 23 percent more individuals. Furthermore, the agency has budgeted an additional $28 million this fiscal year in order to continue increasing the number of those we serve under this waiver by an additional 20 percent.

FSSA is sympathetic to the challenges some clients may face and is always willing to work with them to find potential solutions. We encourage clients and loved ones of those who may be in need of assistance to contact us here at FSSA. Another troubling piece about the article published in The Brazil Times was the reference that those having difficulties with programs administered by FSSA should contact the ACLU for legal assistance. While we appreciate everyone's right to legal representation, we strongly encourage clients to contact their case manager or FSSA's Division of Aging prior to seeking legal action, at 1-888-673-0002, to learn about alternatives that may be available to them.


Megan Ornellas,

Director, Division of Aging