Kentucky faces a projected $1 billion dollar budget shortfall in 2010. Like most states, the General Assembly has struggled with years of budget deficits and in 2009 a $458 million dollar budget shortfall. According to Governor Steve Beshear, “There will be pain associated with further spending reductions, on top of the nearly $600 million we’ve already cut in the past 18 months.”
In addition to other significant legislative advocacy efforts (see 2009 Legislative Wrap-up at www.aarp.org/ky), AARP Kentucky fought to prevent further budget reductions in home and community based services (HCBS); as well as supports for Grandparents raising grandchildren.
Funding HCBS can save taxpayers more than $50,000.00 per person by allowing people to live in their own homes longer.
Today, millions of Americans who want care at home are struggling; care is often uncoordinated and people frequently end up in costly institutional care settings. AARP Kentucky believes all Americans should have the choice to get needed services and supports at home, since 89 percent of Americans 50+ say they want to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Despite most Kentuckians’ desire to receive care at home, the state is only spending 8 percent of its long-term care funds on home- and community-based services.
Developing a better system for Long Term Care and people with chronic conditions would save money, improve quality of life for individuals who need these services, and better enable them to live at home where they want to be.
Steps to improve long-term care include: removing certain income limits on HCBS; increasing the federal match rate for home- and community-based services so that states can expand these programs; improving quality and coordination for individuals receiving both Medicare and Medicaid; and helping the 34 million family caregivers who support their loved ones.
AARP supports two bills that would improve access to long-term care, they include: the “Empowered at Home Act” (S.434) and the “Retooling the Health Care Workforce for an Aging America Act” (H.R. 468/S. 245).
• The “Empowered at Home Act” would expand eligibility for services and provide states with additional federal money so more Americans could receive care at home.
• “Retooling the Health Care Workforce for an Aging America Act” would provide training and support for family caregivers and improve training for the long-term care workforce.
As AARP ramps up its advocacy efforts on these issues, we need you to be involved as citizen advocates on state and federal issues - and take action. Governor Beshear announced plans to address the crisis by calling a special session of the General Assembly on June 15th.
Although Kentucky’s two-year state budget is already in place, the projected billion dollar shortfall requires immediate action according to Beshear. HCBS support services must become non-negotiable priorities as the Governor and General Assembly seek even more cuts.
Volunteers are needed as the state seeks to address this unprecedented budget shortfall and as Congress continues to debate health reform.