AARP AARP States North Carolina Health & Wellbeing

Maintain Support for Home and Community Care Block Grant

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By Mary Bethel - Associate State Director, Advocacy

North Carolina's Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG) funds an array of in-home and community based services to help seniors stay in their homes.  The Senate budget shifts $2.9 million from HCCBG to Project C.A.R.E. (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty), a program which provides respite care and support services to families caring for persons with dementia.  Aging advocates, including AARP, are concerned about this potential change because the Senate’s cut in HCCBG comes on top of a $2 million cut due to the federal sequestration.

Taken together, almost $5 million of cuts will cause many providers of local aging services to drastically reduce services - fewer people will be served, many people will have reductions in the services they still receive, and agencies may have to lay off workers.

The HCCBG allows counties the flexibility to determine which services to fund based on community need.  Most of the 60,000 persons receiving services are age 75+ and do not receive Medicaid but they still have incomes too low to afford to cover the full cost of services.  Home delivered meals, transportation assistance, and in-home aide services are some of the most needed services.  Due to the increased cost of service delivery, approximately 7,000 fewer persons are getting help today through the HCCBG than ten years ago.  There are large waiting lists for HCCBG services across the state.  For example, 6,000 people are on the list waiting to receive home delivered meals, one of the 17 allowable Block Grant services.

In making the shift in funding, Senate leaders propose to expand Project C.A.R.E. across the state. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is looking at ways to revamp Project C.A.R.E. so that it can offer some of its services statewide, to include respite when additional resources become available.  (Governor McCrory included $500,000 for respite as an expansion recommendation in his proposed budget.  This $500,000 would replace expiring federal funding.  The Governor did not propose a cut in the HCCBG.)

AARP supports increased funding for both the HCCBG and for Project C.A.R.E.  With the increase in the older adult population in the state – the population of those 65+ will almost double in the next 20 years from 1.3 to 2.3 million – and the continuing rise in the cost of delivering services, more resources are needed to help those who need assistance.  We do not support reducing the budget of the HCCBG to shift the funds to Project C.A.R.E.

We trust that the House budget will not concur with the Senate proposal to cut the Block Grant and will be supportive of increased funding for both HCCBG and Project C.A.R.E.

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