Senior Citizen Day Not a Party for Everyone

Among the bustle of elderly folks who converged on the Capitol to celebrate Tuesday’s Senior Citizen day, Evelyn Green sat alone on a bench with a frown on her face. Green, a 74 year-old Houston resident, worried that Medicaid cuts proposed in the budget will mean that her husband, diagnosed with terminal colon cancer will be unable to get medication or therapy. “It’s absurd that the state’s going to do this to old people,” Green said, “My husband is going to be sitting at home dying because he can’t get no medical help.”

More than two-thirds of nursing home residents receive Medicaid, according to the AARP. Under this year’s proposed budget, Medicaid reimbursement to providers will be cut by 10 percent, which means that doctors—some already taking a loss by accepting Medicaid patients—will have no choice but to stop accepting Medicaid altogether.

So, while the mood among the hundreds of elderly shuffling through the Capitol—several wearing bright scarves, nametags or even red, white and blue boas to distinguish their group from others— appeared festive, some were concerned about their future and the future of those they cared for.

Barbara Anderson, the service care coordinator for Dickenson Place, a Dallas community home for low income seniors, says that the cuts would be disastrous for the 120 residents there who rely on Medicaid.

That includes residents like VeEtta Powell, 67, who lives on $760 dollars a month. “Ask your legislators if they could do that.” She challenged. “I don’t got a lot of money to spare. If I have to pay more for doctors and medicine, how am I going to pay for groceries?”

But Medicaid is only one of the various cuts outlined in the proposed budget that would affect the elderly. The Senate Bill also cuts $1.4 billion in spending for nursing homes and for assisted living programs that keep people out of nursing homes in the first place. Which begs the question that Lee Starks, a coordinator for the Wellness Center for Older Adults posed, “Where are the old people going to go?”

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Published at 4:34 pm CST
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