-- Citing a volume of reports of senior citizens not receiving home health services through the Pennsylvania Aging Waiver, and many problems with phone calls and paperwork delays, Rep. Tim Hennessey (R-Chester/Montgomery), chairman of the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, conducted a hearing this week along with the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, to investigate a host of problems.
The complaints center around Maximus, an independent enrollment broker contracted by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), to handle Aging Waiver enrollment beginning seven months ago.
“The reports received, and the evidence presented by witnesses at the hearing, were devastating in my opinion,” said Hennessey. “Calls are not being returned, paperwork is not being processed, and seniors are being treated poorly and not receiving necessary services. This hearing revealed some corrective actions that have been made by DHS, but it’s not enough. We need more work and less talk on this subject.”
Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas faced numerous pointed questions from the combined panel about the problems. He told the group that the department has required Maximus to increase staffing at the Maximus call center, implement an overflow call center during busy times and work more diligently with other agencies and stakeholders to improve communication and enhance the enrollment process.
Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne also pledged more efforts to help those applying for the Aging Waiver.
Adding testimony to the hearing were two panels of witnesses, one representing Pennsylvania’s Area Agencies on Aging and another made up of advocacy groups, including legal experts and disability center providers.
Other testimony was submitted by the PA LIFE Providers Alliance, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Association of County Human Services Administrators.
Hennessey said this issue will be revisited in the near future to monitor progress.
“Our seniors and persons with disabilities deserve far better than they have been receiving in this change to an independent enrollment broker,” said Hennessey. “The change was mandated by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an arm of the federal government. Our Area Agencies on Aging were doing a perfectly fine job of handling these applications efficiently, and some bureaucratic decisions from the federal government have caused a totally unnecessary restructuring, with horrible results for many seniors. We need to get this fixed. I thank those who testified and the many people who attended the hearing to show the scope of the problems and the level of stress they have caused. Their voices have been heard.”
Representative Tim Hennessey
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Raymond Smith