BOSTON, January 23, 2013 – In reaction to Gov. Deval Patrick’s Fiscal Year 2014 state budget proposal, Michael E. Festa, state director of AARP Massachusetts – which serves more than 800,000 residents age 50 and older in the commonwealth – issued the following statement:
“AARP commends Gov. Patrick for looking to improve the future of the commonwealth’s children, transportation infrastructure, and bottom-line economy. However, while level funding most programs and services on which older residents rely, Gov. Patrick continues to overlook the current needs of some of our most vulnerable. This is a mistake.
“Today, more than 1,000 seniors are not receiving the home care services for which they are eligible. Instead, they are put on waiting lists. Many are forced into premature and more expensive nursing home care, which may be ultimately paid for by the commonwealth. Others rely exclusively on their family caregivers, giving these dedicated individuals no respite, at the cost of their own personal health and sometimes their jobs. Still others die while waiting. This is unacceptable.
“The time to end home care waiting lists is now – for our seniors, for their caregivers, for our commonwealth.
“We know: The vast majority of seniors want to stay in their own homes and communities as they age. Yet, long term care in the commonwealth is weighted disproportionately toward institutional care, leaving home care under-funded, seniors under-served, and caregivers over-stressed. This must change.
“Rebalancing and strengthening long term care – that includes high quality, affordable skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, adult day health services, senior housing and home and community based services – for today’s seniors, and those who will need these services in the next decades, should be a priority for all of us. After all, with the aging of the population, we now face a demographic imperative: By 2030, the 65-plus population will grow to more than 20 percent in Massachusetts or an estimated 1.5 million residents.
“Today, we urge lawmakers to end home care waiting lists, once and for all.
“We will continue to review closely the Governor’s budget, and will make further recommendations regarding the programs and services that seniors count on – including long term care, health care and prescription drugs, and elder protective services – as the budget moves to the House and then the Senate.”