Bill Offers A New Approach to Helping Hoosiers Age in Their Homes

A new bill at the legislature is aimed to helping aging Hoosiers maintain an independent lifestyle in their homes for as long as possible. The bill, authored by Rep. Ed Clere, would implement a new model of care coordination for older residents under the CHOICE program.

It’s based on the Community Living Program, which Clere says takes a closer look at each person’s situation and resources that might already be available to fill in the gaps.

“Instead of just throwing services at people because they qualify for them, this model looks at ‘What services does this person really need?'” he explains. “Because a lot of times, supports from family and friends, and community organizations, are already available.”

Under the proposal, the CHOICE program would offer incentives for using family and community care rather than government services, and would help people at an earlier point, to prevent the need for additional services later. House Bill 1391 was passed unanimously out of committee this week.

Joan Cuson, director of the Area Agency on Aging in South Bend, says for a fraction of the cost of nursing home care, with the right resources, a person can age at home independently.

She maintains the new approach would make the CHOICE Program more accountable to taxpayers by addressing need rather than eligibility.

“By looking at all those things and very carefully piecing together a plan for that individual, relying on federal and state dollars as a last resort, we’re able to serve people very, very well and we’re able to target those dollars to where they’re most needed,” she explains.

Another goal of the bill is to make asset and income calculations more fair when qualifying people for services. Cuson says CHOICE has wide support, and thinks the modifications are a smarter way to use resources.

“It really does set Indiana in a different direction for the future,” she says. “And personally, I believe that this is a model that could be a national model. It really has a wonderful track record, so I think it stands to serve everybody in Indiana.”

CHOICE has been available to all counties since 1992. It offers support services such as home health aides, transportation, medication management, nutritional supplements, and family and care training.