Balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly
I helped write an op ed piece this week for a nursing home and elder-care client on what will happen to Medicaid/Medicare in the New York State budget.
As the economy, the Middle East and Japan have dominated the news in the past few months, the New York State legislature has been quietly working on a $1 billion reduction plan that could cripple home-care and close nursing homes throughout the state.
In his op ed piece, the CEO of The Lutheran Care Network wrote that lawmakers were taking the easy route and going after the low-hanging fruit –– the elderly — with a disproportionate percentage of reductions. He said that Medicaid/Medicare are always the first programs that legislators try to cut when the going gets tough since the elderly can’t fight back. The state, he said, was trying to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly. Strong statement.
He also said that if the cuts go through as proposed, 30 to 60 nursing homes will close and the home-care industry will basically go out of business because of the living wage bill.
Why should any of us under the age of 80 care? Quite frankly, because we all might need senior services some day, especially as we live longer and healthier. Right now, we might already be a care-giver for a parent or a loved one. I look after my elderly aunt in an assisted living community. God bless her, at almost 97, the day is near when she’s no longer capable of staying there. If nursing homes are closed, what will her options be?
When we need options, what will they be? Especially if staying in our own home with paid help is no longer available. No one wants to go into a nursing home. We all hope that when we’re ready, we’ll peacefully close our eyes one night and not wake up. But that only happens to a very lucky few.
This all makes me think about how we care for our elderly as a country and a culture. And how we all will be cared for someday.
What questions does it raise for you?