; Many wait months to get services.
; Now states face severe budget cuts.
Nursing Home Don’t Put Me Oh, Lord, in a
So a year ago she applied for help with cleaning, meals and personal care from the state’s Medicaid and elder care programs.
Though she qualifies for help, she was put on a waiting list.
Today Miller weighs barely 100 pounds. She eats only when friends
bring her food. She cries because she cannot clean her home or even
bathe herself properly.
And she has yet to receive
any help from the state.
“I’m afraid now I’ll die before
they get to me,” she says, in a
voice just above a whisper.
Programs that help older
Americans like Miller live
independently in their own
homes—and out of nursing
homes—have not been keeping pace with the needs of
people age 85 and older, the
fastest-growing age group.
Across the nation more
than 300,000 individuals
are already on Medicaid
waiting lists for home or neighborhood services.
Now, shocking budget deficits produced by the deepening recession are forcing state lawmakers to freeze or even cut these lifelines
for older residents. At least 46 states plus the District of Columbia
face shortfalls this year or next; and an estimated $350 billion in
state deficits loom over the next 30 months, according
to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),
a Washington think tank.
“Every program, every bill and every policy issue will
be affected by the economy,” William Pound, executive
director of the National Conference of State Legislatures,
wrote in a recent NCSL report on the budget outlook.
At least 22 states and the District of Columbia are
cutting or proposing cuts to home and community services or are significantly increasing what low-income
people must pay for them, according to the CBPP. In a
recent national survey of state area offices on aging—
which direct many such state programs—70 percent
said they anticipate “severe” budget cuts.
Alabama, for instance, has ended homemaker services
for more than 1,000 older adults. Rhode Island now
charges low-income older residents more for adult day
Shirley Miller, an 85-year-old widow, has
lived on the 10th floor of an aging rent-
subsidized apartment building in Winter Park, Fla.,
for 21 years, close to her friends, church and doctors.
Miller remains sharp and independent, but one health problem
after another has left her unable to maintain her daily routine on her own.
Many states are considering Medicaid cuts that could swell the number of uninsured Americans and the number of home and health care workers who lose jobs. AARP urges members to tell their state legislators not to cut health care for people who can’t afford it. For contact information, go to http:// capwiz.com/aarp/dbq/officials/ or check your phone book blue pages. CALL TO ACTION Protect Medicaid