July 30, 2011

Steep Budget Cuts Seen for Home Health Services for Seniors

by Levin & Perconti

Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys have frequently explained how the well-being of our vulnerable senior citizens often hinges on the quality of employees providing them with necessary care. This is true in all contexts, whether the senior is a nursing home resident or receives care at home through more unique care giving schemes. Unfortunately, on occasion those in charge of providing these services prioritize profits over all else. Senior abuse and neglect frequently strike in those situations.

The role that money plays in quality care giving is perhaps most vividly seen in budgetary discussions among state and federal lawmakers. The public coffers never seen to be full enough to provide for all of the services that are needed by community members, necessitating painful discussions about cutting the services provided to vulnerable seniors. Sadly, when budget cutting plans are discussed a major component of the cuts almost always involves eliminating services provided to seniors.

At the federal level this includes the current high profile budget discussions in Washington D.C. The situation is the same in many states. For example, several weeks ago MSNBC Health published a story that explained how many states are cutting home health services for seniors—potentially setting the stage for increased instances of elder abuse and neglect.

Home health services are often the last line of defense that allows seniors to stay in their own homes instead of begin forced to move into a nursing home. For many seniors, this service is paid for by their public aid program. States are beginning to trim those services in order to save money. Now, thousands of seniors across the country are finding themselves without basic assistance that they had come to rely on. Many states are ending meal deliveries to seniors, reducing the amount of time that nurse can commit to house calls, and getting rid of adult day care programs.

These cuts may have life-altering consequences for those who depend on the services. For example, one woman interviewed for the story who suffers for cerebral palsy explained how she may no longer be able to live alone following the budget cuts. She relies on a home health aide to get dressed for work in the morning and prepare for bed at night. During the day she uses her motorized wheelchair to work as an organizer for a disability rights organization.

All reasonable observers understand the pressures placed upon state and federal budgets. However, our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers know that continually cutting necessary services to seniors is not the answer. By eliminating these often life-saving services, the cuts may have disastrous effects on the well-being of thousands of citizens and actually lead to increased costs. Preventative care is always much cheaper than dealing with emergency situations and the consequences of neglect. By investing money in proper care at the outset, seniors will be less likely to develop costly complications.

Please take a moment to call, email, or write to your state and local officials to urge not to throw our vulnerable seniors under the bus. Remind them that budgetary strains cannot be solved by eliminating important services for our community’s most vulnerable members.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

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More Thorough Background Checks Proposed for Illinois Nursing Home Employees