SOUTH BEND—REAL Services, a FSSA-funded social services program, plans to lay off 65 employees due to transition to PathWays to Aging. State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) released the following response:

“I am concerned and disappointed in the decision to layoff employees. The local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) play an important part in case management and service coordination for older Hoosiers receiving health care through Medicaid. I am calling for action from FSSA to monitor and provide updates about the incorporation of AAAs in the new PathWays program and address concerns about loss of their participation.

“The role of AAAs is critical in helping Hoosiers connect with access to vital healthcare services, obtain nutritious meals, and maintain important transportation services. Their connections to seniors in our community are a valuable resource that are useful to our residents, FSSA, and the Managed Care Entities (MCEs) during the transition to PathWays. These layoffs may place an additional strain on seniors and their caregivers and loved ones. Although there will be an additional strain, Medicaid will continue to provide care coordination services and for those who are eligible for additional services like adult day services, assisted living, home-delivered meals, and many more. Unfortunately, the proposed amount from negotiations is less than the current rate the AAAs receive with the work they do now with seniors in their communities. FSSA should be mindful of the services they provide and consider the proper amount to fund the AAAs.

“FSSA’s transition of 28,000 seniors from fee for service to managed care, joining the 100,000 people under PathWays calls into question the sustainability of FSSA to provide for recipients of services. After months of negotiations, FSSA proposed a rate that is substantially less than the current rate the AAAs receive. This rate does not even cover the actual costs of providing the services as originally provided.

“REAL Services and the other AAAs in Indiana have been working on behalf of older individuals since 1996. Due to FSSA’s proposed new rates, providers like REAL Services are put in the position of laying off workers and not able help everyone who relies on their assistance. FSSA needs to continue to fully serve the Hoosier people under their new PathWays and ensure nobody falls through the cracks.”