Your AARP ; South Carolina News
4,000 waiting for in-home help
Budget Cuts Leave a Void
Dorothy Wiles enjoyed an active life until progressive arthritis made it difficult for her to get around. These
days the 84-year-old Columbia retiree relies
on a walker and can’t easily shop for
groceries and fix her meals.
Home-delivered meals have helped Wiles
continue to live in her home. “It’s really been
a blessing,” she said.
But cuts in the state budget mean other
people who need similar help won’t get it.
The state has not reduced services to people like Wiles who already receive them,
but no new recipients are being added to
the program, said Tony Kester, director of
the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging.
The office provides money to a network of
nonprofit agencies that help older people
remain at home longer. The agencies deliver meals or help get seniors to a community
center for communal meals, provide rides
to medical appointments and sometimes
perform light housekeeping tasks.
$5 million increase sought
The state’s spending on such home- and
community-based services (HCBS) has
been cut in half since 2009, from $2.9 million to less than $1.5 million for the 2011-12
fiscal year that began July 1.
When the legislature meets in January to
adopt a 2012-13 budget, Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, R,
will propose nearly $6.5 million for HCBS
programs, Kester said.
AARP South Carolina endorses Ard’s proposal for the $5 million budget increase.
Ard warned that without additional money, “it will be difficult to continue providing
the services for a growing number of seniors
in need of assistance, and many will have to
be institutionalized in expensive facilities
using taxpayer-funded Medicaid services.”
Although eligibility for services financed
by the Office on Aging is not based on
income, nearly six in 10 who received
home-delivered meals last year lived in
poverty, Ard wrote in a justification for the
additional HCBS money.
“Seniors whose nutritional needs are not
being met are at risk for other health issues,
32 aarp.org/bulletin DECEMBER 2011
which represent greater costs in terms of
health care,” said Teresa Arnold, AARP
South Carolina legislative director. “A nutritional meal each day helps to reduce the
number of visits to hospitals and emergency rooms, and stays in nursing homes.”
Many at risk for hunger
An AARP Foundation analysis found that,
in the past decade, only three states had a
higher percentage of their 60-plus populations at risk for hunger than South Carolina.
For people 50 to 59, only four states had a
higher percentage of hunger risk.
The nonprofit agencies that provide the
home-delivered meals and other services
are relying on attrition to cope with the
budget cuts, Kester said. When recipients
move to a nursing home or die, no new
clients are added.
“We’d rather use this means than to cut
anyone from services,” he said. Nonetheless,
at least 4,000 people are on waiting lists.
The number of South Carolinians 60 or
older has increased nearly 40 percent in
the past decade to more than 900,000.
About a third have incomes low enough to
qualify for federal food assistance.
By 2030, the Office on Aging said, population projections indicate that more than 1.8
million South Carolinians will be 60-plus.
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orange-burg, the senior Democrat on the state
House Ways and Means Committee, said
older people have “paid their dues. They
should not be worrying about where their
next meal is coming from.”
The state reported a surplus of nearly
$123 million for the 2011 fiscal year that
ended June 30; Cobb-Hunter said some of
that money should be directed at services
for older residents.
To learn how to encourage state legislators to support a bigger HCBS budget, visit
—By Gail Crouch
For other state news, go to
1211_32 [PRN].indd 32 BLACK YELLOW MAGENTA CYAN
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