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Proposed Budget Erodes Critical Services for Seniors

Limiting access to homecare services would force some seniors into expensive nursing homes. (geralt/Pixabay)
Limiting access to homecare services would force some seniors into expensive nursing homes. (geralt/Pixabay)
April 18, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – Advocates for seniors say Gov. Dannel Malloy's proposed budget would put Connecticut seniors at risk. According to AARP, the governor's budget would erode seniors' access to vital programs, affecting everything from prescription drugs to home health care.

Claudio Gualtieri, advocacy director at AARP Connecticut, notes that the state has a growing senior population, but the governor wants to cap access to the Home Care Program for Elders, which provides health care and services that seniors need to live independently at home.

"So it will be timed to only serve the people who are on the program now, and to the extent, someone in the future could get a slot, they will be on a wait list," he explained.

Malloy is trying to close a projected $1.4 billion deficit in the 2017-2018 state budget without raising taxes.

But Gaultieri points out that helping seniors stay in their homes actually saves the state money. Cutting support for home care may force seniors into nursing homes, dramatically increasing the state's Medicaid costs.

"To the extent that we can provide care where seniors want to be, at home, at a more cost-effective rate and stretch our state resources, it seems like it's a win-win-win," he said.

This Wednesday is Alzheimer's Awareness day in Hartford. Gaultieri says people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia require extra care to remain at home. That care often comes from family caregivers, and when they need help, one of the programs they can turn to is the Home Care Program for Elders.

"Which gives family caregivers access to adult day and formal supports that can relieve the family member to go take care of other obligations and family responsibilities," he added.

Over the next two weeks, legislators on the Appropriations Committee will be making their budget proposals. Negotiations on a final budget should start on Apr. 27.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT