Brockton, MA, February 25, 2008 --(PR.com
)-- Several hundred elderly and disabled people are traveling to the State House on Tuesday, February 26th to try to pull off a balancing act. Or more precisely---a rebalancing act.
The seniors want state lawmakers to shift existing funding from institutions into the community. They say Massachusetts is still overly-reliant on nursing home care, and needs to "rebalance" the more than $2.5 billion that is spent on long term care services.
"We spend more than 60% of our MassHealth long term care dollars for nursing homes," explained Old Colony Elderly Services' Executive Director Diana DiGiorgi. "Yet the official policy is 'Community First.' It's time to rearrange the state budget to reflect what seniors want: care at home."
DiGiorgi said that OCES' board members will join Mass Home Care and other groups as they converge on the State House to lobby lawmakers as they prepare the FY 2009 budget. On the advocates' short list of senior priorities are the following:
1. $45.8 million for the Governor's proposed Community First Waiver, which takes savings from nursing homes and invests it in expanded community services for an estimated 30,000 elderly and disabled people over the next five years.
2. $58.51 million for the Enhanced Community Options Program, which provides in-home care to elders who are clinically eligible for a nursing home but prefer to live at home. ECOP costs only one-third of what a nursing home would cost. This appropriation level will keep 4,876 elders per month out of institutions-a savings of at least $234 million.
3. $21.58 million for the Protective Services Program, which investigates and resolves reports of elder abuse and self-neglect. Every day, 42 reports of elder abuse are filed in Massachusetts. This program pays for guardians, Money Management volunteers, and for Protective Services case workers. This request will cover 3,554 elders per month.
4. $925,000 for geriatric mental health would allow as many as 328 seniors to receive mental health support services at home. This would recognize mental health issues---like depression or thoughts of suicide---as valid as any physical impairment.
"Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of institutionalization of the elderly in the nation," said Mass Home Care Executive Director Al Norman. "For every one person in a nursing facility, we can pay for two people at home. We want lawmakers to 'make the equal choice law real' by making our tax dollars work smarter." According to Norman, the Equal Choice law, passed in August of 2006, guarantees seniors the choice to live in the 'least restrictive setting' which for many is their own home. "But without funding," Norman said, "Equal Choice becomes No Choice at all."
About Old Colony Elderly Services
Incorporated in 1974, Old Colony Elderly Services (OCES) is one of 27 private, non-profit Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The organization’s mission is to provide services which will support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health; and, prevent unnecessary or premature institutionalization.
OCES serves the towns of Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.
The agency has 110 employees and operates more than 12 programs serving elders, their families and caregivers. For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at www.oc-elderly.org.