Indiana House Bill 1001 outlines the proposed state budget for fiscal year 2020, and proposes to cut the CHOICE appropriation by nearly 5 million annually, despite a statewide waiting list of more than 2,000 people. CHOICE (Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled) program allows people who require just a few hours of care each day to remain in their homes with part-time assistance, rather than being forced prematurely into a nursing facility. For an average care plan cost of $2,370, CHOICE connects Hoosiers with home and community based services, compared to the $57,132 annual cost of nursing facility care.
LifeStream currently provides direct services to 269 Hoosiers through the CHOICE program. CHOICE funding serves a critical unmet need to provide in-home services to those who are not eligible for Medicaid and to another group of participants with disabilities who are under the age of 60 and do not qualify for Older Americans Act funds. CHOICE funds can be used short-term and preventatively to divert clients from long-term Medicaid eligibility and nursing facility placement.
For FY2021, the cuts to LifeStream’s CHOICE budget already total $483,490. Since July, we have placed over 100 additional Hoosiers on the wait list, putting them at risk for significant declines in health due to falls and poor nutrition. This list will continue to grow with additional cuts.