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Elderly Home Care Cutbacks Largest In 18 Years

By October 16, 2008No Comments

SOUTHWEST BOSTON, MA (October 16, 2008) –The $6.768 million cutback in home care services announced October 15th by Governor Deval Patrick to the core home care program are the largest cutbacks in the program since 1990. In July of 1990, then Governor Michael Dukakis cut $7 million from the home care program, and the following December, another $4 million. In 2002, Governor Jane Swift proposed cutting $6.5 million from home care in 9c cuts—but later withdrew the plan. The latest 9c cuts will roll back the care management component of the home care program to a level one million dollars lower than FY 2006:

Home Care Management Funding (in millions)

Line item FY 2006 FY 2009 after 9c cuts
caremanagement $38.627 $37.568

The home care purchased services account, which funds workers to go into homes of the elderly and help them bath, eat, dress and use the bathroom—is being cut to a level below FY 2007 levels: 

Home Care Purchased Services Funding (in millions)

Line item FY 2007 FY 2009 after 9c cuts
Home care services $102.996 $102.747

The overall cuts to Elder Affairs line items came to $15,511,761, or a 5.3% cut.  According to Mass Home Care, which represents the 30 non-profit agencies which work with elderly state and federal programs, the cuts to home care mean at least 1,810 seniors will not get home care for the remainder of the fiscal year, beginning November 1st. 2008, until the end of June, 2009.

“When people in home care die or go into a nursing home—they will not be replaced,” explained Dale Mitchell, Executive Director of Ethos. “Even imposing waiting lists may not be enough to bring down the caseload to meet these new spending levels. For a state that is trying to promote ‘community first’ as a civil rights issue—I would say that these cuts are jeopardizing the right of elders to be cared for in the least restrictive setting.” Mitchell said the number of elders affected will be even greater because in many parts of the state the program’s caseload had been growing above target levels. “It goes against all our values to cut people off of this program,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell quoted former Governor Jane Swift, who pulled 9c cuts to home care off the table in October of 2002 saying: “Cuts to direct services to folks in home care eventually show up on your balance sheet in a more expensive way.”

“We are being asked to run a 2009 program on a 2006 budget,” Mitchell concluded. “Elders will fall into the No Care Zone as a result of these cuts.”