The governor faces a critical decision during this legislative session that will have dramatic implications on the future of persons living with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as others with adult-onset disabilities who want to remain in their homes as their disease progresses.

Marsha Shuler’s recent article in The Advocate revealed that the nursing home industry is trying to avoid providing managed care to aging and disabled Louisianians who want to remain in their own homes. Why? Because, as Shuler said, managed care programs are designed to provide the most appropriate services in a generally less expensive setting, which is often a person’s own home.

In many instances, persons with ALS are better cared for in their own homes than somewhere else, especially when that somewhere else is a nursing home. I encourage everyone to take a look at our state’s Nursing Home Report Card at http://nursinghomereportcards.com/state/la/. This information is in sharp contrast to statements about improvements in quality from Joseph Donchess, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. Louisiana’s nursing home care is ranked as the second worst in the nation, failing every critical staffing measure as well as five of eight quality measures. The report provides a much clearer picture of why a nursing home is often not the best option.

I believe that all Louisianians who benefit from the state’s managed care programs should have the choice to receive the services they need at home rather than in a more costly institution. In fact, as The Advocate’s story mentioned, a recent AARP survey concludes 90 percent of people in Louisiana say they want to remain in their own homes and communities as they get older.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has not shared his opinion on the nursing home industry’s intentions. Hopefully, Louisianians will stand up and tell the governor to protect all choices for those who want to receive care in their homes and community.

Louisianians are worth it.

Kelly Viator

executive director of the ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter

Baton Rouge