Friday, November 21, 2008

States Cutting Elder Services

The economic downturn continues to negatively affect elders, with new reports predicting more low-income seniors will be forced to leave their homes because of state budget cuts specifically in the area of elder benefits. In a Market Watch article this week titled, “States Cut Services for Elderly, Disabled”, it was reported that at least 15 states cut funding for programs that provided at-home services to elders such as cooking and cleaning. In addition, a total of 41 states are now being faced with current and alarming budget deficits. In Illinois, for example, the state government is $5 billion in debt.

However, states are not waiting on the federal government for a hand-out, no doubt realizing that the federal government’s attention is on helping the larger corporations at this point in time. States are taking matters into their own hands by passing state economic stimulus packages and other legislation to improve the economy statewide. The Ohio state government will be moving forward in 2009 with a passed $1.6 billion stimulus package to revive its weakening economy.

The Elder Economic Security Initiative Standard Index is a usefel tool on local and state levels that can be used to guide state deliberations by showing what exactly elders need to be secure. As states ambitiously move to strengthen their economy it is important to remember the important role of service providers and advocates that support elders in this crucial time. The reality is that now even more seniors need added support and benefits pushed for by both groups and taking funding away from these groups will only lead to more seniors unable to progress toward economic security.


Kevin said...

this is a really rough situation. The elders work hard all their lives and they may suffer because we are trying to maintain this recession. I feel a lot of empathy for this population as they may be impacted the hardest by all of this.

By the way, I am shocked that Illinois is in a deficit of $5 million. Kind of makes you wonder where all those taxes and tolls and stuff go?

Anonymous said...

The most vulnerable populations are our elderly and children, we need to protect them

Stacy Sanders said...

As Field Organizer for the Elder Economic Security Initiative, I have the opportunity to hear from the front lines how our project can help advocates and service providers at the state and local levels. Trips to Minnesota, New Jersey and Connecticut in the last weeks left me feeling as though our prospects were grim. The budget situation in so many states causes many (rightly so!) to feel pessimistic and, in some cases, downright defeated when it comes to opportunities to improve the well-being of elders in the years to come.

Upon my return, our Michigan partner thoughtfully reminded me that crisis opens up real possibilities for change and creativity. Now is the perfect time to step back and ask the all-important question: are we spending our limited dollars the right way? Now is the right time to improve evaluation and streamline programming. What's more, good program and policy change does not have to cost a lot of money.

Striving for improved efficiency while introducing innovative solutions can lead to positive results for seniors and their families -- at the federal, state and community levels. The concepts and the tools behind both the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Project and the Elder Economic Security Initiative are just the place to start!

Anonymous said...

If we are going to find policies and programs that support a lifetime of financial security for all kinds of American families, we have to find ways to (1) assist those who are already in their golden years, and (2) prepare the generations that follow before they get there!