To the editor:
What disillusionment! Along with our State Board of Education's non-evolution stand, I've read on the front page of the J-W (8-22-99) that we are ALSO going back in time in the care our state provides our frail elderly, the most vulnerable of our citizens.
Nursing home care, as of July of this year, is now the ONLY prospect available for people on limited incomes after their lifetimes of contributions to their families and their communities. Our legislators have placed a cap on the Medicaid waiver, thus freezing the funds needed for home-community based care. Yet, it does NOT take a great mathematician to know that our state's contribution to nursing home care, required by Medicaid when home services AREN'T available, will cost considerably MORE than helping people to remain in their OWN homes -- where they want desperately to be -- or in a group home or assisted
living facility, both of which provide care and more independence at far LESS than the cost of nursing home, institutionalized care -- when it's NOT needed!
The present short-sighted policy is penny wise and pound foolish, a step back in time to when our state confined MORE people to nursing homes than almost any other state, and when many Kansans worked earnestly to put in place ALTERNATIVES, all along a continuum of care, for our elderly. Yet, like forgetting about evolution, we seem to be abandoning the enlightened route we HAVE taken to provide care for our frail elderly in the LEAST restrictive environments, tailored to meet THEIR needs and wishes and at far less cost to us taxpayers than nursing home confinement. The latest TIME magazine (Aug. 30) features an article on "The New Alternatives to Nursing Homes" with a second heading: "Nursing homes used to be the only stop for seniors who need help. Now there are options." Will Kansas again buck the tide of enlightenment -- and provide NO options? Hopefully, enough people who themselves might, one day, face this bleak future, or whose parents are facing it now, will urge our state legislators to remove the cap on Medicaid waivers!