Protect Programs that Help Senior Citizens Live at Home

March 10th, 2017

 

Missouri’s budget problems are real, and there is no question that we are facing painful choices in Missouri. In making difficult choices, however, our elected officials should protect those programs and services that truly deliver results in the most fiscally responsible way.

No one knows more about living on a tight budget than a senior citizen. There are 1.2 million seniors in Missouri, and almost 400,000 of them rely on Social Security for 90 percent of their income. One in three seniors struggles to meet the most basic needs of adequate food, medicine, affordable housing and accessible transportation. They are part of what is becoming Missouri’s hidden poor. For these neighbors, access to essential services is the difference between being able to live modestly and independently or being institutionalized.

 That is the cost in human terms. The cost to the taxpayer is equally grave. It costs taxpayers $53,000 for one senior to stay one year in a skilled Medicaid facility. The same senior, with access to Area Agency on Aging services, could live at home for $18,000.

The governor has also already restricted $200,000 from the AAA budget for this year. The Legislature is considering further cuts to several programs that assist needy seniors. These include MoRx, which assists with medication costs, and the property tax credit programs that rebate property taxes for low-income seniors and those on disability.

 We need to do the right thing for Missouri’s seniors and not take away the very programs designed to help them stay in their communities. It’s time to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Mary E. Schaefer  •  Manchester

Executive director, Mid-East Area Agency On Aging

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