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Home Care Advocates: Budget Cuts Will Force People Into Nursing Homes

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December 28, 2009

RICHMOND, Va. - Personal health care workers in Virginia say Governor Tim Kaine's plan to save money by cutting funds for home health care will backfire and end up costing the state millions of dollars in payments for more expensive care in nursing homes.

Personal health care assistants such as Julia Newton provide in-home care for elderly and disabled residents. She says that care would otherwise have to be provided in institutions.

"It doesn't make sense to cut programs that actually save money and help people to stay in their homes. Personal care assistants like me, you know, we work hard every day to save the state money that would otherwise be spent on nursing homes."

Newton says the people she cares for are healthier because they're not put into an institution.

"People would rather be at home where they can get quality care. You get better care at home, plus it saves the state a lot of money to keep people at home rather than to put them in a nursing home."

The Governor's budget cuts $419 million out of the program by limiting aides' hours and imposing a five-percent pay cut. It also freezes the roster of people on the waiver program that helps those with Alzheimer's and other disabilities to receive service. Governor Kaine says he had to make significant and painful cuts to all sections of the state budget because the nation is still undergoing the toughest economic conditions since the Great Depression.

In addition to having her own pay cut, Newton has an autistic son who is one of the many who would be frozen out because of the Governor's clamp-down on the waiver program.

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA