Letters to the Editor

Our seniors deserve better

The country is focused on the debate around repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. However, what hasn’t received as much attention is that the House also passed deep cuts to the federal-state Medicaid program as part of the ACA repeal bill.

Most people think Medicaid only serves low-income children and mothers, and low-income working adults. The majority of Medicaid spending provides services and supports to help people with disabilities and older adults live their lives.

Two-thirds of long-term care provided in nursing homes is paid for by Medicaid. Nursing homes average nearly $90,000 per year, without Medicaid, millions of older adults and families would be financially overwhelmed if these services were limited or no longer available.

While less expensive than nursing home care, in-home services are often cost prohibitive for families as well. In our community, services such as home care, adult day services, emergency home response and transportation are examples of what Medicaid helps to provide. It is likely that the only choice for care in Illinois will be nursing homes.

It makes no sense to undermine the only long-term care option available as our country undergoes a transformational demographic shift to an aging nation. If we want to save federal health care dollars, we should expand the cost-effective care options instead of eliminating them. Medicaid-funded programs they also save taxpayer dollars each year in avoided nursing home costs.

Our seniors deserve better!

Joy Paeth, chief executive officer at AgeSmart Community Resources