Home Care For Low-Income Elderly, People With Disabilities Will Face Cuts

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At least 15 states facing widening budget shortfalls are cutting funding for services for low-income elderly residents and people with disabilities, mostly for programs that allow low-income "shut-ins" to receive personal care in their own homes, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Wall Street Journal reports. In recent years, Medicaid has encouraged home-based care because nursing homes cost more per person, the Journal reports. In 2006, Medicaid spent about $47 billion on nursing home care compared with $15 billion on home- and community-based care.

The Journal reports that while home-based services for the elderly and disabled "are just one of the areas facing cuts, ... the cuts hit hard because the population is especially vulnerable." JoAnn Lamphere, director of state government relations at AARP, said, "We are beginning to see serious cuts and we are expecting those cuts to get worse."

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According to the Journal, the cuts are "exacerbating the already long waiting lists for home care support services in many states," such as Florida, where the waiting list for one home and community care service doubled to 8,505 people in the year ending July 2008. Florida Medicaid Director Dyke Snipes said, "We are going to be facing a tight year," adding, "It wouldn't surprise me if the list is increasing." A class-action lawsuit against Florida alleges that the state "unnecessarily" puts people with disabilities in nursing homes because it does not allocate enough resources for community-based care.

In addition, Alabama ended homemaker services for approximately 1,200 disabled and elderly adults to save $2 million, leaving social workers and local officials trying to find help for those now without subsidized home care, the Journal reports (Shishkin, Wall Street Journal, 11/20).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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