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Gains for CT Seniors in Jeopardy

AARP estimates that home and community care is one-third the cost of a nursing home. (
AARP estimates that home and community care is one-third the cost of a nursing home. (
June 15, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut has made progress in meeting the long-term care needs of seniors, but advocates say proposed cuts to the state budget could wipe out those gains.

A new state-by-state scorecard from the Commonwealth Fund shows Connecticut has improved its performance in helping seniors stay in their homes and in assisting family caregivers, ranking the state 10th in the nation for its long term services and supports.

But Claudio Gualtieri, advocacy director for AARP Connecticut, calls that ranking "a tenuous 10."

"It's ironic that just when we're turning the corner in really making progress in our long-term care system, all of those programs that make that possible are under attack and might not be there in the coming weeks," he states.

Gov. Dannel Malloy has proposed eliminating the Community First Choice program and making cuts to the Connecticut Home Care and Alzheimer's Respite Care programs for family caregivers.

The proposed cuts are intended to help close the state's $5.5 billion, two-year budget gap.

But Gualtieri points out that care in institutions like nursing homes costs three times as much as care at home or in the community.

"That's why we've had such strong bipartisan leadership up to this point, protecting that as a core service, and we hope that some of the risky proposals on the table are going to be reconsidered," he explains.

The Commonwealth Fund estimates that further improvements in Connecticut could result in more than $500 million going to home and community-based services instead of nursing homes.

Gualtieri adds that making multiple cuts to services for seniors and the disabled affects the same people over and over again.

"Every time you cut 5 percent from each line item, that compounds for the same individual who's trying to piece together some supportive services and family support to age in place at home," he points out.

Gualtieri says without investments in home care, over-reliance on nursing homes will just put more strain on the state budget.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT