CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) – Kenneth Toth is celebrating Christmas at his own home this year.
It was the first time in two decades that the Campbell man was able to do so, after years of living in group homes and nursing homes.
“I never thought it would be a reality. I never thought this would come,” Toth said.
As a young child, Toth suffered a traumatic brain injury. He lived with his mother until her death and then went into group homes.
A series of mini strokes sent him to a nursing home, where he lived for just more than 15 months. With the help of Medicaid’s HOME Choice program, he left the facility for the last time on Tuesday.
“It was more just see the social worker every day, have coffee with her and talk about it,” he said. “I never thought this would actually happen.”
Established in 2008, HOME Choice is Ohio’s iteration of the federal Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. The program has been extended until 2019.
As of 2015, more than 7,000 people have found independence through HOME Choice. The youngest person to enroll was two months and the oldest was 101, according to the Ohio Department of Medicaid.
The department says Ohio’s program has become a national leader in moving people back home, ranking first nationally in transitioning individuals with mental illness into home-based settings, and second in overall transitions completed.
The program moved Toth into a senior apartment in Campbell.
When people can’t afford to pay for nursing home stays, nearly all of their income is taken to pay for their care. Sometimes, they are left with as little as $50 a month, which makes saving for a first month’s rent nearly impossible.
“The cost that they are having to incur because of the nursing home facility stay is pretty significant,” said Kelly Banks, of the Area Agency on Aging 11.
The HOME Choice program helps pay deposits as well as buys furniture, some clothing and a few groceries for those enrolled. Banks said it’s much cheaper than a $6,000 a month Medicaid bill.
“To move them back into the community, even for two days, saves the taxpayers money,” she said.
To participate in HOME Choice, participants must have lived in a Medicaid-funded facility for at least 90 days, have care needs evaluated by HOME Choice staff, qualify for Medicaid and move into qualified housing.
More information is available at www.medicaid.ohio.gov/HOME.