INDIANAPOLIS – As Indiana General Assembly resumed work Monday, legislators tackled a bill to modernize a state senior citizen’s assistance program.
The Senate Family and Children Services Committee discussed House Bill 1287 and the changes it would bring to the current system.
The proposed legislation would shift the focus to identifying the needs of the individual in order to keep the senior independent as long as possible. The original program typically sent people to a wait list before evaluating them and providing services.
Laura Holscher, executive director of the Area Agencies on Aging Area 13, supports HB 1287 and said that it would help people more quickly. The bill passed the House 97-0.
“What we’re seeking to do here is modernize choice, it is 30 years old and when it was created it certainly worked then, but now we need to make some changes,” said Holscher.
The Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled Program, commonly referred to as CHOICE, was established in 1987 to provide long-term services and supports to individuals at risk of being sent to a nursing home or assisted living community.
To be eligible for the program the individual must be at least 60 years of age, an Indiana resident, applied and found ineligible for Medicaid, and must be unable to perform two or more activities of daily living, according to the paying for senior care website.
Currently it allows for people to qualify with up to $500,000 of assets. This bill will shrink that number to $270,000. Although it is nearly cut in half, analysts believe there will not be a large decrease in the number of participants in the program after the change.
In 2015, there were just under 7,000 individuals who were enrolled in CHOICE.
The bill passed out of the Senate committee hearing with a 8-0 vote.
Lucas Lloyd is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.