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Bay State retirees suffer under governor’s budget


After analyzing Gov. Deval Patrick’s Fiscal Year 2013 state budget proposal (House 2), released last week, Deborah Banda, state director of AARP Massachusetts – which represents more than 800,000 members age 50 and older in the commonwealth — issued the following statement:

“With five consecutive years of state budget revenue shortfalls, programs that serve seniors in this commonwealth have been hit hard; many have been cut to the bone.  At the same time, need continues to increase due in part to the tough economy — but also because of the growing aging population in Massachusetts.

“While the Governor says he will level fund most elder programs, this does not help the nearly 1,000 seniors who are still on waiting lists for home care. Further, we see no specific allocation in the Governor’s budget for continued funding of:

•Adult day health services, which more than 11,000 vulnerable older residents count on to stay in their homes and communities — and stay out of more expensive institutional care;

•Nursing home leaves of absence (known as the “bed hold”), which provides nursing home residents the option to return to their own bed in the nursing home, should they require a short term absence, such as for hospitalization; and,

•The Massachusetts Money Management Program, on which low-income seniors rely to manage their finances, and maintain their independence; since the program started in 1991, more than 9,000 Bay State elders have been helped.

“In addition, AARP believes the proposed cut of $1.5 million to the Elder Nutrition Program — which will eliminate nearly 250,000 meals for seniors in need — is nothing less than short-sighted, and we will fight to have that funding restored.  According to the AARP Foundation, which is working to combat elder hunger nationwide, more than 140,000 older adults in Massachusetts risk going hungry every day.  This number has been on the rise over the past few years, and will certainly be impacted by diminishing the Elder Nutrition Program.

“We will also continue our work to address spiraling health and prescription drug costs.  AARP will fight to restore the independent and objective drug education program for doctors called “academic detailing,” absent from the Governor’s budget, that helps doctors make medical decisions based on data – rather than on drug company marketing materials.

“And, as the state works to reform health care payment reform, AARP renews our call for the inclusion of long-term services and supports in this discussion.  With Massachusetts ranking near the bottom of all states when it comes to the cost and quality of long term care, now is the time to correct the commonwealth’s disproportionate reliance on institutional care by expanding home and community based care.”

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