Area Agencies on Aging concerned over potential outsourcing of services

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CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Across the commonwealth area agencies on aging providers work with thousands of elderly people. Now, the state is looking to turn over one of its functions that helps people sign up for Medicaid to a company based in Virginia.

In response to the proposed contract, the Pennsylvania Aging and Persons with Disabilities Coalition called on Governor Wolf Wednesday to not give final approval to the contract. The organization held a virtual tow hall, where more than 300 people who oppose that transfer attended, including the 52 area agencies on aging across Pennsylvania, who said the changeover would hinder their ability to provide services.

In Clearfield County, eight people work in the assessment process, and in total, the office works with more than 2,000 elderly people. Kathy Gillespie, the CEO of Clearfield County AAA said if the transfer were to go through, those positions would go away, and vital services would be lost.

“We’ll no longer have access to look into the system to see where people are in the process. So we will no longer be able to advocate for those people,” Gillespie said when asked about how area agencies will be impacted by this. “Many times, we go out into peoples homes and help them search for the documents that are needed to complete the Pa 600 for Medicaid eligibility determination.”

Steve Catanese, the president of the coalition that held the virtual town hall Wednesday, spoke during the session, where he voiced concerns over the potential transfer. He said that by moving this service out of state, service will be slowed down.

“With Maximus being able to take over this additional rung, what we will see is more work being moved out of the state, and more delays increased,” Catanese said. “We really strongly believe as a coalition of speaking here today that the outcomes for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens will be poorer.”

According to the Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging, its performance rating over 30 years is 99.75%, and Gillespie attributes that to their consistent face-to-face service.

“If it’s not that personal experience, it’s just not going to get done, people aren’t going to get served,” Gillespie said. “They’re just not going to get the care that they need at home.”

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