This is the second post of a Budget and Tax Center blog series on public services and programs that face cuts in the budget process or have been underfunded in past years. See the first post here.
State funding that helps older adults who want to stay in their home would be slashed under the Senate budget that was passed last weekend. The Senate leadership wants to cut the Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG) by nearly $1 million. This move would result in cuts to non-Medicaid in-home and community-based services—such as home-delivered meals, in-home aide, and transportation assistance.
State lawmakers established the HCCBG in 1992, and it is made up of both federal and state dollars. The Senate’s $1 million cut would be on top of a $2 million cut enacted last year as part of federal across-the-board cuts known as the sequester. HCCBG services are available to people ages 60 and older but the “average” client is nearly 80 years old and the services are well-targeted to those who are near-poor and socially needy, according to DHHS.
The Senate passed a $1 million budget cut to HCCBG services despite a waiting list of roughly 16,000 people, according to a survey conducted by the NC Department of Health and Human Services. The demand for these vital services is likely to keep on the uptick as the so-called graying of North Carolina continues. Meanwhile, the growing cost of delivery shows no signs in subsiding. A $1 million budget cut will only serve to push additional older adults onto the waiting list.
The NC AARP explains how North Carolina is losing ground in services to older adults:
“Overall funding for the Home and Community Care Block Grant has increased about 29% since 2000, with State funds growing about 24.5%. Even with this increase, there was a 9.4% reduction in the number of clients served and a 15.3% reduction in service units through major Block Grant services between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2012. Comparatively, the population age 60+ and 75+ grew by 37% and 24% respectively during this same period. “
Head over to the NC AARP’s website to learn more about why protecting the HCCBG should be a legislative priority.