LOA says cuts hurt but the worst part is that the government is making them cut all programs by different percentages. That means they're unable to choose which programs to cut at a local level. In addition, a recent Brown University indicates that the cuts could cause a trickle-down effect if people are unable to remain independent due to the loss of services. That would end up causing more people to move into nursing homes.
How will they choose who will lose benefits? They will have to determine who is "least" needy – people with caregivers of some sort may be at risk of being dropped, so that LOA can focus on people who don't have any help from friends and family. Right now, many caregivers work full time and rely on LOA program to help when they can't be there.
I spoke with an 81-year old woman who has benefited from Meals on Wheels for 7 years. She offered to give up her spot in the program, because there must be other people who need the service more.
I also interviewed a man as he was waiting for the LOA cab service from his dialysis appointment – he goes 2-3 times per week – this is the program that helps more than 300 seniors get to and from doctor's appointments. Right now the service has a waiting list of 17 and growing.
Shannon Abell of Roanoke's Local Office on Aging, says federal budget cuts will have an impact on our area. More specifically, Roanoke's LOA office will lose $74,349 from it's 2013 budget.
The cuts, caused by the financial deal known as the sequester, will mean almost 9,000 fewer meals on wheels will be delivered, and the Roanoke LOA will have to drop 50 clients who currently get meals.
Other programs that will be hurt by the cuts:
Diners Clubs: Cut 932 meals and close two Diners Clubs, fewer days of service
Drop 2 clients each from Personal Care, Homemaker, and Adult Day care services
LOA would no longer be able to add clients to the Vital Services transportation list, and existing clients would see trips to the grocery store cut from twice to once a month.