Op-Ed

State plan for aging services: better management, more openness, less cost

It is disappointing, irresponsible and totally false for the Herald-Leader editorial board to contend the state is taking action against Bluegrass Area Development District “without a plan.”

The editorial board is entitled to its own opinion, but not its own facts.

The decision by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to work directly with service providers in the region is to ensure that vital services are provided in an efficient and cost effective manner. In reality, the Department of Aging and Independent Living’s plan is so strong not a single client has lost aging or disability services in the 17-county Bluegrass region during the transition.

The road to the commonwealth transitioning operations within the Bluegrass region started more than two years ago. Republicans and Democrats have voiced the same concerns — repeatedly. That’s not politics; that’s poor management. We have attempted to work with the Bluegrass ADD on numerous occasions. However, as mentioned in the editorial, the leadership was “truculent and defensive.”

We strive to ensure partnerships to promote transparency, accountability and the efficient delivery of service. This simply was not possible under the previous arrangement.

Bluegrass even threatened to sue agencies that offered to help the Cabinet and provide services to our vulnerable clients within the region. Sadly, Bluegrass ADD leaders are now purposely creating fear among Medicaid waiver participants by claiming they may lose services. Again, clients have not and will not lose any services. It’s all a charade — a desperate attempt to sustain the ADD’s cash flow on the backs of seniors and individuals with disabilities.

The Bluegrass ADD is simply a pass-through agency. Actual services are provided by numerous agencies across the region. Every single one of those agencies stepped up to assist the commonwealth during this transition. All but two are non-profits or operated by local governments.

Of the two for-profit agencies, one was already under contract with the area development district. Ironically, despite the messaging from Bluegrass ADD, the one for-profit agency is providing the same services as the ADD did at 10 percent less.

In fact, the change has drastically reduced overhead costs (42 cents of every dollar Bluegrass ADD received was used to cover overhead), meaning those funds can now be spent on direct services to our clients without the fear of misappropriation.

The state’s well-planned management of the area development district establishes stability and financial accountability following a series of chaotic decisions by Bluegrass ADD leaders.

The commonwealth did not “blow up” the Bluegrass ADD; it self-destructed. The Herald-Leader’s ridiculous suggestion to the contrary is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

Deborah Anderson is commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Aging and Independent Living.

At issue: July 6 Herald-Leader editorial, “Blowing up ADD aging without a plan” and July 11 commentary by David Duttlinger, “Agency hit by ‘guilty until proven innocent’ view”

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