Bill to give elderly and disabled Tennesseans more long term health care options is landmark legislation says Sen. Crowe

May 1, 2008

Bill to give elderly and disabled Tennesseans more long
term health care options is landmark legislation says Sen. Crowe

(NASHVILLE, TN, May 1, 2008) — Senate General Welfare, Health and Human Resources Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) said today that legislation giving elderly and disabled Tennesseans more long term care options is one of the most important bills passed in the two-year 105th General Assembly.  The bill, which Crowe is
co-sponsoring and that came through the committee he chairs, was unanimously approved by the full Senate on Thursday.

Crowe said the legislation, SB 4181, simplifies access to home and community-based services and increases the number of people able to stay at home for long-term care needs through the state’s TennCare program.  Presently, 98 percent of long-term care funding is spent on institutional care with limited utilization of lower cost home and community-based options.

“We have been working to give elderly and disabled Tennesseans more health care options for a long time,” said Crowe.  “This bill sets out a new framework that we will build on for years to come as far as what long term care in Tennessee should look like.  It will provide a better quality of life for many Tennesseans as they age with dignity in the least restrictive setting.”

Crowe said currently the state’s long term care system is very fragmented, providing funds for only a small amount of home- and community-based services and nursing home care.  He said the legislation will allow for many other options including adult day care and assisted care living.

The comprehensive bill, called the “Long-Term Care Community Choices Act of 2008,” includes the following key provisions:

  • creates consumer-directed care options, including the ability to hire non-traditional family members, friends, and neighbors with accountability for taxpayer funds

  • broadens residential care choices in the community beyond nursing facilities, including new options such as companion care, family care homes, and providing improved access to assisted care living facilities

  • streamlines the eligibility process for faster service delivery and the enrollment process for new providers

  • maintains a single point of entry for people who are not on TennCare today and need access to long-term care services through Medicaid or other available programs

  • use existing Medicaid funds to serve more people in cost-effective home and community settings

  • designates one entity to coordinate all of the care a TennCare member needs including medical, behavioral, and long-term care

  • implements active transition and diversion programs for people who can be safely and effectively cared for at home or in another community setting outside the nursing home

  • installs an electronic visit verification system to monitor home care quality

  • creates a Long Term Care Oversight Committee to review the program during its first few years of implementation.

“This bill provides a point of entry that can change as the needs of the individual changes,” Crowe added.  “I am very pleased that the State Senate has approved this landmark legislation.”

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