DHS sends letters to seniors, disabled adults notifying of home-care program elimination

"We sincerely regret this action," the letter states. "Should the state Legislature act to restore funding for the ADvantage Waiver before December 1, 2017, DHS will notify you as quickly as possible. "

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services lost $69 million of its budget due to a state budget shortfall. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

A program that provides home-based care to seniors and disabled adults will end Nov. 30, according to a letter sent to the program’s participants.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services sent letters out to ADvantage participants on Tuesday, notifying them the program would be eliminated Nov. 30.

“We regret to inform you DHS must eliminate the ADvantage Waiver effective December 1, 2017,” the letter states. “Your participation in the ADvantage Waiver will be funded until November 30, 2017. Since elimination of the ADvantage Waiver affects everyone receiving services through it, there is no right to appeal this action.”

DHS sent a letter on Tuesday announcing the ADvantange program’s elimination. Courtesy

The ADvantage Waiver Program is designed to help seniors and adults with disabilities live at home, rather than in a nursing home or a similar type of adult care.

DHS reported the program serves more than 21,000 people and the loss will impact about 450 providers.

The agency estimated when the program is eliminated, about 10,000 of those served will be forced into nursing homes. DHS noted the state doesn’t have enough nursing homes to accommodate those people.

DHS lost $69 million of its state funding for Fiscal Year 2018. Last week, the agency submitted a revised budget to the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

The revised budget included eliminations of DHS services, including the ADvantage program. It also would eliminate funding for adult day services for seniors and adults with disabilities and in-home services for seniors, including home-delivered meals and home-making services.

DHS spokesman Jeff Wagner said the agency will send additional letters to participants by Nov. 20 to tell them whether they are eligible for regular Medicaid benefits. If they are, they likely qualify for nursing-home care, he said.

“We sincerely regret this action,” the letter states. “Should the state Legislature act to restore funding for the ADvantage Waiver before December 1, 2017, DHS will notify you as quickly as possible. ”

On Monday, state lawmakers agreed to pull more than $100 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, to be sent to the Department of Humans Services, Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. However, that would not fill the state’s $215 million budget shortfall.

DHS would receive about $29 million of the $69 million lost.

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Kassie McClung

Staff writer

Kassie McClung joined The Frontier in May 2016. She reports on health, criminal justice and other state issues. Kassie holds a bachelors degree in multimedia journalism from Oklahoma State University. She likes dogs, maps and data. She can be reached at Kassie@readfrontier.com or 918-935-1044. Follow her on Twitter @KassieMcClung.