Save senior services

June 10, 2013 

It is a curious bit of funding manipulation by the N.C. Senate. Many services for the elderly are funded through something called the Home and Community Care Block Grant, which is made up of federal, state and local money. Currently, it amounts to about $60 million.

Now the state Senate wants to put $2.9 million from that fund into Project CARE, a good program that helps people who care for those with Alzheimer’s disease. But the money would be lost out of the block grant, which would mean that hundreds of seniors in North Carolina would lose some 135,000 home-delivered meals, as reported by The News & Observer’s Thomas Goldsmith. About 600 seniors could lose 48,000 trips (doctors’ visits, presumably), and 430 of them would lose 71,000 hours of in-home help.

So why don’t legislators appropriate enough money for Project CARE instead of taking funding from other services? The explanation is that Project CARE covered only about 25 counties. But the loss of nearly $3 million will not be easily overcome. It will come out of important human services, including the home-delivered meals.

In a $20 billion-plus annual budget, $2.9 million doesn’t seem like a figure it would be difficult to replace. Surely Gov. Pat McCrory and lawmakers can solve this dilemma.

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