Home care option

Published 12:01 am Sunday, October 31, 2010

On Sept. 30, 2010, Gov. Barbour’s office reported that state budget revenues through September fell short of projections. This news probably came as a surprise to a few given the economy, but it was bad news for the 2012 budget.

As the State Legislature moves forward in the budgeting process, they will need to look at better and smarter ways to spend the state’s social and human services budgets, including Medicaid. It will be necessary to make fewer dollars stretch further than in the past.

One manner in which we can accomplish this goal is through shifting additional Medicaid dollars to home- and community-based services for seniors from money currently appropriated for institutionalized care such as nursing homes.

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AARP Mississippi has listened to its members and understands the importance to them of aging with dignity. Services, such as personal care, transportation and meal delivery, grant seniors these freedoms and actually cost much less than institutional care.

At present, Mississippi spends approximately $68,000 per year to care for a person in a nursing home. That amount is more than three times the cost of providing care for a person in his or her own home. In other words, for every $1 spent on caring for a Medicaid recipient in a nursing home, the state could serve three recipients in their homes and communities.

AARP Mississippi will endeavor to work with the governor’s office, the Division of Medicaid and the state legislature to establish programs to better utilize Medicaid dollars in our 50-plus population.

It will be important as well that they hear from all Mississippians to ensure our rights, where possible, to age in place with the dignity and respect we will all eventually earn.

Sheri Davis-Garner

AARP Mississippi