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Lawmakers working to address FSSA budget shortfall, create more transparency

Lawmakers working to get to the bottom of the FSSA budget shortfall.
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Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-01 18:26:26-05

INDIANAPOLIS — This legislative session, parents of kids with severe medical complexities have been urging lawmakers to address what they view as a big problem, the FSSA budget shortfall.

Last year, FSSA announced they underestimated Medicaid costs by nearly $1 billion.

The ARC Indiana says part of that shortfall was from unexpectedly high enrollment and utilization of aged and disabled waiver services. Now, the legislature has stepped in.

On Thursday, lawmakers in the house passed four amendments on Senate Bill 256. Those amendments will address what they feel are transparency issues with the FSSA.

One amendment would require FSSA to review attendant care claims and not immediately approve them.

Another would require FSSA to submit a report to the general assembly by October 1 explaining how the shortfall came to be and how the agency plans on making sure it doesn’t happen again.

The amendments also require FSSA to create strict guidelines for the attendant care program. If families receiving assistance don’t qualify under those guidelines, they can take part in structured family caregiver program.

Kim Dodson, the CEO of The Arc of Indiana, says these changes will create a path forward for families.

Attendant Care is a specific service on a waiver that allows a family member to help with activities of daily living, including showering, getting them dressed and eating.

Dodson says that structured family caregiving is more than just helping with daily activities. It also gives the primary caregiver respite care and allow for skilled nursing care.

There is a shortage of nurses and at-home caregivers but through the structured family caregivers program, that access would increase says Dodson.

"I think we need to continue the message that structured family caregiving is going to work for some families and it's not going to work for others,” Dodson said. “For the others, that's where we need to make sure the attendant care service is an option for them."

Democrats were able to get some of their amendments passed to help with this ongoing issue.

Representative Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, says this conversation is far from over, as the senate will consider these changes next week.

However, if they continue to center the conversation around fiscal responsibility, he feels they can continue to make progress.

"There is no republican philosopher who is going to say we can just throw the money around and we don't have to be careful,” Rep. DeLaney said. “So, when we stay on that side of the topic, we are probably going to be pretty close.”