LETTER: Proposed Medicaid assessment changes would jeopardize care

MM Curator summary


AAAs are unhappy the state is handing over their scope to Maximus.


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We, as former Area Agency on Aging (AAA) administrators in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region, are writing to express our deep concern over a change being executed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) that will eliminate the local Area Agencies on Aging from the Medicaid assessment/eligibility process for older adults and people with disabilities.

For over 30 years, the 52 Area Agencies on Aging, serving all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, have been performing the assessment/clinical eligibility determination for seniors and persons with disabilities who are seeking to access Medicaid-funded services and supports.

Local Area Agencies on Aging have been trusted community resources that have assisted individuals and their families/caregivers with navigating through a complex, multi-faceted and often confusing Medicaid enrollment process. Nothing can replace the highly specialized and personalized assistance provided by the trained and experienced Area Agencies on Aging staff who excel at understanding the unique needs of vulnerable populations. These Area Agencies on Aging have consistently achieved an impressive 99.75% on-time completion rate for assessments.

So, what is the issue?

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is currently preparing for negotiations with Maximus US Services Inc. (Maximus) to expand its scope of work for the DHS as the Independent Enrollment Broker to include the assessment responsibility.

Maximus has a history of poor performance as an enrollment broker in Pennsylvania and in other states. According to the Office of Long-Term Living (June 8, 2021), the Long-Term Services and Supports Subcommittee reports that Maximus failed to meet its contractual performance obligation for timely completion of enrollments within the 90-day timeframe for 17 consecutive quarters!

So why give Maximus the additional assessment responsibility when the quality of enrollment work is so poor?

Why would the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania/Department of Human Services consider awarding an even larger contract to a private company that has repeatedly failed to meet critical performance standards? Why would the state strip away from the local Area Agencies on Aging the assessment responsibility when they have a proven record of performance and reliability?

Seniors and people with disabilities are waiting for an answer.

We strongly urge the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania/Department of Human Services to withdraw the Request for Application and to continue to allow our Pennsylvania residents access to the local community-based Area Agencies on Aging. The Area Agencies on Aging have proven their ability to provide consistent and reliable assessment service.

Katherine Johnson

Former administrator, Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging

Mildred Morrison

Former administrator, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Area Agency on Aging

Robert Willison

Former Executive Director, Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging Inc., serving Fayette, Greene and Washington counties


Clipped from: https://observer-reporter.com/opinion/letters/letter-proposed-medicaid-assessment-changes-would-jeopardize-care/article_9b9dc18c-372b-11ec-a787-cfb4329e279e.html