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Budget Cuts to Home Care Services

Published on August 6th, 2010

NY Times had an article about cuts in home-care services for elderly and disabled because of budget shortfalls despite the fact that programs have been shown to save states money in the long run because they keep people out of nursing homes.

Since the start of the recession, at least 25 states and the District of Columbia have curtailed programs that include meal deliveries, housekeeping aid and assistance for family caregivers, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research organization. That threatens to reverse a long-term trend of enabling people to stay in their homes longer.

States that have made cuts:

Oregon, facing a $577 million deficit, was cutting home aides to more than 4,500 low-income residents.  State legislators say home care is a service the state can no longer afford. Cuts affecting an additional 10,500 people are scheduled for Oct. 1.

¶Florida placed 69,000 people on waiting lists for home or community services last year, and more than 5,700 of them ended up in Medicaid nursing homes.

¶Alabama cut housekeeping services — useful for people who can no longer do some cleaning tasks — for more than 1,000 elderly residents.

¶Arizona sliced independent living supports and respite programs for family caregivers.

¶Kansas, with a $131 million shortfall, will cut independent-living services for 2,800 people with disabilities in the next year.

In Illinois, providers of Meals on Wheels have stopped adding clients because the state was not reimbursing them.

Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas have all made cuts or frozen spending at a time when the elderly population — and the need for services — is growing.

In California, which faces a budget shortfall of $19.1 billion for the 2010-11 fiscal year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office proposed eliminating adult day health care centers that serve 45,000 people and in-home supportive services that help more than 400,000 elderly, disabled or blind residents.

Because Medicaid regulations require states to provide nursing home care to receive federal Medicaid money, legislators often have more leeway to cut from home services. Advocates for the elderly and the disabled worry that these cuts are just the beginning, because state ledgers tend to recover more slowly than the national economy.

 

Joe Pioletti
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