No End in Sight for Money Follows the Person

Yet state officials want to know if there have been any safety problems with people who’ve been moved into that program

February 16, 2011 – Despite a pronouncement by James Toews that the multi-level investigation into the Money Follows the Person program would be wrapped up by now, apparently there’s no end in sight. That investigation has been under way by the Department of Justice since last August
Toews, assistant director of the Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Division, told The Lund Report that he’s not heard when a decision will be announced.       
Nevertheless, Dr. Tina Kitchin indicated the Division is eager to learn about allegations that seniors and people with disabilities who were moved into the program might have experienced safety problems.
“There continues to be squirreling information that some of those moves didn’t happen safely and there wasn’t enough support, but every time we try chasing those rumors down, we’re not able to get any specifics,” Kitchin told the Oregon Health Plan medical directors Monday.
Toews had been expected to appear at that meeting, however had a conflict and was asked to testify at a legislative hearing.  
Meanwhile, Kitchin, who spoke with The Lund Report after the meeting, said her comments had no connection with the ongoing investigation, and that the Division was concerned about safety – not only for people participating in the Money Follows the Person program, but those in hospitals and nursing homes.
“I haven’t heard a word about the investigation,” said Kitchin, medical director for the Seniors and People with Disabilities Division. “But if anyone knows about a safety concern, we want to hear about it.”
Since August, the Department of Justice has been conducting an investigation, looking into financial entanglements surrounding the federally funded program, which moved 278 people out of hospitals and nursing homes into community-based settings.
When the program was halted in late August, it impacted Clatsop Care Center District, which had embarked on an $8 million building project and had been assured of $1.8 million in grant funding.
For some time advocates have been concerned about the number of people who died as a result of being moved from a nursing home or the hospital to a community setting. Of the 83 participants during the first six months of 2010, 15 died, according to a report submitted by the Division to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. However, Toews said that number was erroneous. Of the 15 deaths, only 6 people were transitioned into the program in 2010, the other 9 participants had joined earlier, in 2009. However, figures were not available on the total number of people who came into the program that year.

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I think what some people may not understand is: People in nursing homes have a choice, They are allowed to go home and die in the comfort of their home with end of life services. I guess we need to get the whole story on each and every death before we make hasty judgements.