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The Long-Term Effects of OR’s Long-Term Care Cuts

January 7, 2009

Portland, OR – State funding for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and in-home care services could be cut by more than $60 million to help manage Oregon's budget shortfall this year. However, it's not just state money that would be trimmed; a new study points out that Oregon would also lose $110.5 million in federal matching funds.

The ECONorthwest report, released on Tuesday, estimates a loss of $1.70 in federal money for every $1 in state General Fund money. Together, the cuts could lead to almost 11,000 lost jobs in care-giving careers, at the same time there's a growing need for them.

John Tapogna, ECONorthwest managing director and a study author, says the effect for Oregon communities is wider than lost employment and wages.

"Those folks also buy groceries and do other things in their local economies that will also be reduced. In addition, the facilities themselves spend money on goods and services – and so, that spending goes down."

Jerry Cohen, state director for AARP Oregon, fears the proposed cuts mean more expenses will fall on families, especially in rural areas where senior services are already scarce. He's convinced Oregon's care-giving system can't take another financial hit.

"In particular, we took some huge cuts that were not quite restored after the last economic downturn. So, essentially, what this means is the dismantling of a system that is seen by other states and Congress as the model to strive for - and that's a shame."

A coalition, the Campaign for Oregon's Seniors and People with Disabilities, requested the study to show state lawmakers the importance of keeping care-giving services fully funded. More than 42,000 Oregonians live in nursing care facilities or use in-home services, and such businesses employ more than 38,000.

The study can be viewed online, at www.aarp.org/or.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR