Members of AARP are urging lawmakers to take a careful look at some of the Governor's proposed budget cuts. They say the cuts would result in greater costs to the state over time.
AARP State Director Brenda Kelly says seniors in Connecticut are among the hardest hit by the current economic crisis, as many of them have seen their retirement savings drastically reduced.
She says AARP understands the need to make budget concessions in tough economic times. But proposed cuts to programs such as the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, and Connecticut's drug prescription program ConnPace, would end up being devastating to the elderly, and also more harmful to the state.
"These cuts are not cuts," says Kelly. "They are really going to end up costing the state of Connecticut incredible amounts of money in the long haul. And we're here to ask the legislature today to take a careful look at this and hold Connecticut's most vulnerable citizens harmless."
Kelly says the proposed reductions would prevent seniors from living independently in their own homes, push more people onto Medicaid, and force some seniors into costly institutional care.
Other budget proposals include the total elimination of Dial-A-Ride, a municipal matching grant program which allows towns to expand Demand-Responsive transportation for seniors and people with disabilities. Representative Elizabeth Esty says this program has been vital for seniors in her community.
"Many people in our area go to doctors and specialists who are outside of our town," says Esty. "If these rides are cut back, I don't know what they're going to do. They're not going to be able to stay in their community. Cheshire does not have any taxi service. We have no alternative."
Kelly says AARP is willing to work with lawmakers and find ways to avoid harmful cuts to Connecticut's elderly.