More To Save

MAYVILLE – The Office for the Aging will be requesting a $500,000 increase in its 2014 budget.

OFA Director Dr. Mary Ann Spanos presented to the Human Services Committee on Wednesday to explain why there will be a large increase to her budget request prior to her budget hearing.

“I am going to be asking for a significant increase in our budget,” Spanos told the committee. “I wanted to give you information on what is behind that. I wanted to give you time before the actual budget hearing to really think about that and make a decision.”

Spanos made a PowerPoint presentation to the committee to show an investment in home and community services saves money and helps people. According to a National Performance Outcomes Measures Project study from 2010, 60 percent of OFA clients were similar to those in nursing homes, OFA home services are only 5 percent of Medicaid costs, and OFA services can delay nursing home placement for up to five years.

Spanos argued that by providing in-home services and diverting clients from nursing homes, more than $19 million in Medicaid savings could have been realized by Chautauqua County in 2013. Additionally, she said people receiving care at home would still be paying income, property and sales taxes; employ homecare workers; and make community contributions through churches, charities and volunteer work.

Currently, Chautauqua County has 359 people on the OFA homecare wait list; 40 waiting for home-delivered meals due to sequestration; 177 seniors waiting for home repairs, including ramps, safety rails and bathroom modifications; and limits on dining-out tickets provided by OFA. Because of the needs of residents, many may end up in nursing homes, when their needs could have been met by OFA, according to Spanos.

A budget increase of $500,000 would help an additional 420 seniors in Chautauqua County, Spanos said, in addition to saving $23 million for Medicaid.

“I’m not saying our services are the end-all and be-all,” Spanos said. “But, if we give a little bit on the front end, everybody else suffers less.”

The budget hearing for the Office of the Aging is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 11:10 a.m.