States Cutting Home Care for Elderly

HILLSBORO, Ore., July 20 (UPI) — States facing budget deficits are cutting spending on home care for tens of thousands of U.S. elderly and disabled people, a New York Times investigation says.

For decades, Oregon has been the gold standard for devising home care that allows the elderly and the disabled to remain in their homes, but the state — facing a $577 million deficit — is cutting home care to some 4,500 low-income residents and is planning cuts to an additional 10,500 for Oct. 1, the newspaper reported Tuesday.

Afton England, 65, cared for her sick husband for eight years and lives alone in a trailer on $802 from Social Security. She has diabetes, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, arthritis and other health problems that prevent her from walking or standing for more than a few minutes. She had been receiving 45 hours of assistance a month to help her bathe, cook meals, clean her home and shop.

States had been providing home care not only because the patients prefer to live in familiar surroundings, but because it costs about $1,500 a month, instead of the patients going to assisted living, which can cost about $3,000 a month, or a nursing home at about $6,000 a month — which the state pays for via Medicaid because the patients are low income.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says because of the recession at least 25 states and the District of Columbia have cut home care, including meal deliveries, housekeeping aid and other assistance.

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