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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taking Care Of Aging Pennsylvanians Is Challenge

mikehallPennsylvania Secretary of Aging Mike Hall was a surprise guest at Sunday’s meeting of the Human Resources Committee to kick off the 123rd annual conference of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania in Seven Springs. Hall told county officials that even though the state’s interim budget has eliminated remibursement of expenses for many human services programs, much of the funding for programs serving the elderly has been restored.

There are still some cuts, Hall hastened to add, and until a new permanent budget passes, waiting lists are going to grow and enrollment for home-based care and other programs will have to be suspended — unless counties are willing to foot the bill.

Hall said Pennsylvania has made progress in reducing the amount of state funds being spent on institutional care for the elderly — primarily nursing homes — from 90 percent of the Aging Department budget six years ago to 66 percent today. He added that it costs an average of $57,000 annually to care for an elderly citizen in an institution, while the expense to provide community-based care that allows the individual to remain in his or her home is about $22,500.

“We cannot let up,” Hall emphasized. “Baby boomers will soon be coming into the system in large numbers . . . There is simply no way this state is going to be able to afford the cost of long-term care unless we continue to buuld out community-based care and other alternatives to nursing homes.” Potter County Today

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