Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Advocates: $2.1 Million Cut to Senior Care Act Will Force Elderly Kansans out of Homes

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Advocates: $2.1 Million Cut to Senior Care Act Will Force Elderly Kansans out of Homes

Article excerpt

Panning as "penny wise and pound foolish" a recent $2.1 million cut to the state's Senior Care Act, 11 agencies that implement the program said the setback will force elderly Kansans out of their homes and into expensive nursing facilities.

"How does this make sense? This cut takes more than $2 million from a $7 million budget," said Janis DeBoer, executive director of the Kansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities, or K4AD, during a news conference Friday.

The $2.1 million decrease was in a package of budget cuts Gov. Sam Brownback approved in May amid the state's continued fiscal troubles.

Donning red T-shirts with "Seniors Count" emblazoned on them, K4AD directors said the cut amounted to a 30 percent reduction of its budget. Letters were mailed out this month to 1,127 seniors, warning them their services will be affected.

The Johnson County Association of Area Agencies saw 38 percent of its budget slashed. The Jayhawk Association of Area Agencies, which serves Topeka, took a 39 percent cut.

Michelle Morgan, executive director at the Northwest Kansas Association of Area Agencies, said the $2.1 million cut is the most drastic in the 27-year history of the Senior Care Act. Her association recently placed a senior on a waiting list for the first time in a decade.

"This is unconscionable and just plain wrong," she said.

The Senior Care Act was enacted in 1989 to provide in-home services to elderly Kansans who are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid waivers. It is administered by K4AD in tandem with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

DeBoer and others made a point Friday of describing how the Senior Care Act was passed unanimously in the Kansas House and Kansas Senate before being signed by Republican Gov. Mike Hayden.

"If you want bipartisan support, that's as bipartisan as you can get," said Jay Rowh, a member of the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature, which advocates on behalf of older adults. …

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