Budget Cuts to Programs for Elderly May Cost Money Later

Some budget cuts to programs serving the elderly may prove expensive to taxpayers in the long run, advocates warn.

Supporters of California 's adult day care system say the decision to eliminate it could mean that 37,000 frail, elderly and disabled people who were in the program will turn to more expensive nursing homes and emergency rooms for help. That could cost several times as much as adult day care, The San Francisco Chronicle writes . As Stateline reported last month, adult day care in California has been costing $76 per person per day. The state reimburses nursing homes at a rate of $200 per day.

Funding for the approximately 300 existing centers that provide medical care, physical therapy, exercise, counseling and socialization will be cut off on December 1. Governor Jerry Brown refused to support a smaller version of the program.

Similarly, in Illinois , budget cuts to programs that deliver meals to homebound seniors could force some frail elderly into nursing homes, The Daily Herald (Arlington Heights) says . The state's recent budget took out $2.2 million for home-delivered meals and other services for aging residents, a reduction of nearly 14 percent from the previous year. "It really makes no sense for the state to go that direction," David Vinkler of AARP Illinois told the paper. "People want to live in their homes and it's costing the state less when they do."

In New Hampshire , about 500 mostly poor and elderly residents who live in small community facilities instead of nursing homes are losing case managers hired by the state to ensure they receive proper care. The state expects to save $1 million by requiring facility personnel to perform the same functions as case managers, The Concord Monitor writes . Critics worry that the change removes important advocates for residents and oversight of the facilities. They also think there's a conflict of interest. In-house staff might be reluctant to report customer dissatisfaction because the customer could move and cost the institution money.

In New Jersey , Republican Governor Chris Christie and Democrats in the State Assembly are publicly sparring over the impact of the budget on senior citizens, The Star-Ledger (Newark) reports . Christie insists that older homeowners will save thousands of dollars thanks to separate property tax rebate programs recently approved. Democrats counter that those in nursing homes and adult day care centers will find fewer staffers to care for them due to millions in budget cuts. Nursing home operators, nurses and patients say the cuts will result in loss of services and jobs. "We will have to implement across-the-board cuts," Joe Bogdan, administrator of a nursing home in Mercer County, told the paper.

And in South Dakota , a new statewide study is underway to help paint a more accurate picture of the state's elderly population. As more young people leave South Dakota, their aging parents could wind up in dependent living situations sooner than expected, with huge consequences for taxpayers, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls) explains . The study will be done at no cost to the state, with the money coming from a grant from Wider Opportunities for Women, a national organization that has done similar studies in 17 other states. While WOW primarily focuses on economic issues for women, this study will cover both sexes.

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