Lawmakers approve Kern’s long-term care act

Legislative Staff Release

Published 08-Mar-2011

Lawmakers voted today to increase access to long-term care counseling services to help Oklahoma’s elderly.
House Bill 1554, by state Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma City, creates the Options Counseling for Long-term Care Program within the Department of Human Services Aging Services Division.
“It is important that Oklahoma’s elderly citizens and their families have access to the information needed to ensure an individual receives the care needed and desired through the final days of his or her life,” said Kern, an Oklahoma City Republican who chairs the House Long-Term Care and Senior Services Committee. “There are many factors that must be considered as families make these important decisions, and this program will help citizens access relevant information in a timely manner.”
The bill states that “access to information regarding all components of a long-term care support system is necessary to empower the elderly and persons with disabilities in planning, evaluating, and making decisions to meet their individual long-term care support needs appropriately.”
Under the bill, the Options Counseling for Long-term Care Program would be designed “to allow for an integrated system that facilitates navigation of the variety of private and public resources available; minimizes service fragmentation; reduces duplication of administrative paperwork procedures; enhances individual choice; supports informed decision-making; and increases the cost-effectiveness of long-term care services and support systems.”
Because options counseling helps individuals avoid unnecessary institutionalization, Kern said the legislation could result in fewer people entering nursing facilities while other residents may get assistance in transitioning out-of-nursing facilities.
Implementation of the program would be funded through federal grant money that does not require a state match.
The bill prohibits the program from being used to implement any provisions of the new federal health care reform law, informally referred to as “ObamaCare.”
H.B. 1554 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 94-4 vote. It now proceeds to the state Senate.