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State Budgets Struggle to Support Senior Services

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 22 July 2010

There are a few things I miss about my state government relations job with the Alzheimer’s Association, but I have to say that budget season is NOT one of them.

I’m sure that most state government employees also dread this time of year, when the numbers are dismal, cuts are imminent, and legislators/staff spend long hours drafting, amending, debating and reviewing line by line the budget bills in their respective states.

For the three years I spent in that world, the refrain was the same every time the fiscal year was coming to a close: “This is the WORST budget year yet.”  To which I often responded, “Was there ever a good budget year?”

Apparently, there were some good budget years, but they have now become a thing of the past. This year proves to be much of the same.

The Associated Press reported on June 29th that billions in federal stimulus dollars will not flow to states who were counting on that aid, forcing drastic cuts to programs like Medicaid, a safety net for many seniors.

Some states wisely chose to design a budget that did not include the federal stimulus dollars. While they may be feeling the pinch in other areas, this news was not as much of a blow to the bottom line as in other states.

State-supported senior services (senior centers, nursing homes, home care services, etc.) are often on the chopping block this time of year. I’m sure that this is just the first of many articles on the subject. Let’s hope that our legislators will find the best way to balance their budgets without putting their most vulnerable residents at risk.

-Michelle Seitzer

 

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