CHA Supports Increased Funding for California’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

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California Health Advocates submitted a letter of support for California’s local Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs and their budget request for $9.25 million in additional annual funding.

California’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs (LTCOPs) provide essential services in our state. We have worked closely with them for over 2.5 decades, often referring clients to them and their services, and collaborating with Ombudsman staff and volunteers in Medicare fraud prevention and detection efforts. They are a key partner in our work and play a key role in ensuring the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of some of our most vulnerable populations.

LTCOPs not only address residents’ various complaints but investigate all reports of elder and dependent adult abuse and neglect occurring in long-term care facilities (APS does not share jurisdiction). LTCOPS also fulfill many other critical state and federal mandates, including: witnessing advanced health care directives; providing information and referrals to residents, family members, and facility staff; supporting resident and family councils, and fulfilling quarterly unannounced visits to facilities. LTC Ombudsmen save the state millions of dollars annually by proactively resolving health, safety, and quality of life issues in LTC facilities that would otherwise be delegated to law enforcement and regulatory/licensing agencies. Yet funding for our LTCOPs has not kept up with the pace of California’s growing aging population or their increasingly complex healthcare needs.

In addition, our state’s LTCOPs are facing numerous challenges that are increasing their caseloads, expanding the scope of their services and making their work more time and labor intensive. LTCOPs lost over 50% of their volunteers since 2017 in no small part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities has increased by 13.5% due to the lack of Ombudsman presence. Meanwhile, more younger Californians are being admitted to long-term care facilities with increasingly complex needs whilst older residents who are living longer are also requiring continually higher levels of care.

Read the letter for more details.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.