FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Lawrence Curry
Curry: A voice for 19,000 senior citizens
Fights program change that could push elderly from their homes into nursing homes
HARRISBURG, March 14 – State Rep. Lawrence Curry, Democratic Chairman of the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, is urging the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to consider the consequences of proposed changes to the Aging Waiver that provides home and community-based services to frail senior citizens.
In his role on the committee, Curry has sent a letter to the Office of Long-Term Living, which oversees the Aging Waiver (click here to read the letter).
"Without any input from the people who provide these services, our welfare secretary is proposing changes that could push senior citizens from their own homes into nursing homes," said Curry, D-Montgomery/Phila. "This will not only cost seniors the quality of life they prefer, but will cost taxpayers millions of dollars because nursing home care is much more expensive than home-based care."
Currently, the Aging Waiver is serving over 19,000 older Pennsylvanians (600 in Montgomery County) with an average monthly care plan cost of $1,778. Meanwhile, a year's stay in a skilled nursing facility costs nearly $5,000 per person per month.
The proposed changes would replace Care Management within the Area Agencies on Aging with a more narrow function called Service Coordination. Care Managers provide one-on-one service to aging clients and their families, coordinating all of their care needs under one umbrella. Service coordination would limit that help to just three hours per month for any individual. In all, these changes would fragment the system and make it more confusing for seniors to access the wide array of services available through the AAAs.
"This proposal is penny wise and pound foolish. Those served by the Aging Waiver are often of advanced age with multiple illnesses so their support needs changes often. By keeping a close watch on them, changes in health can be addressed quickly before things deteriorate to the point where the senior is suffering or can no longer live on their own.
"Is this how we, as a society, treat our senior citizens? I certainly hope not," said Curry.