State Proposed Funding Cuts to Social Services for the Elderly

The safety net protecting at-risk Virginians is likely to come unraveled under proposed state budget cuts. Both the House and Senate financial committees have suggested reductions to social services, Medicaid, and several other programs protecting state residents from abuse.

Programs serving the poor, the disabled and the abused already face rising needs and shrinking funds. And as the state tries to close a $4 billion gap in revenue, these programs are set to face even more significant cuts. The department's budget cuts for the fiscal year mean fewer social workers are available to meet the demand for services.

The proposed Senate budget suggests a 5 percent cut to the Virginia Department of Social Services but does not mention the local agencies. Also, programs that help older Virginians with chores and companionship will be eliminated.

"We fear we will receive additional adult protective services complaints," said Janine Sewell, director of the Fredericksburg Department of Social Services.

More elderly Virginians could also end up in nursing homes, Sewell said, because families won't be able to take care of them without in-home support. Proposed cuts could also set back by decades the care of people with disabilities, advocates said. Specifically, Medicaid reimbursement cuts would reduce services for disabled.

The Senate and House will vote on their budgets tomorrow. Then budget conferees from each body will begin meeting to work out differences before the legislature adjourns March 13. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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