More than two dozen residents of Clayton, Henry and South Fulton residents traveled to the state Capitol building last week to speak out against proposed cuts to services for the aging.

The residents, all members of the Riverdale, Jonesboro and South Fulton chapters of AARP, protested proposed state budget cuts affecting long-term care services that allow disabled and older Georgians to stay in their homes and communities. By
removing the services that make it possible for them to stay in their homes, the cuts would likely force hundreds to seek vastly more expensive nursing home care.

They traveled to the Capitol as part of AARP’s Three Weeks at the Capitol lobbying effort. The annual campaign, which begins in late February and continues until mid-March, gives AARP residents from around the state the opportunity to speak to their representatives at the Capitol on issues that matter most to them.

“Older Georgians want to stay in their homes and communities as long as they can. They don’t want to go to nursing homes. For a fraction of what it costs to provide nursing home care, we can provide the help they need to stay in the homes and communities they love,” said Shirley Clark, president of the Jonesboro Chapter of AARP, and a member of Thursday’s delegation.

“AARP works to make things better for society. That’s why we take on issues that matter to Americans aged 50 and above,” said Clark.

Proposed cuts to the state budgets for 2013 and 2014 will strip nearly $3.6 million from services for the aging. The cuts will make it harder for older Georgians and those with disabilities to continue living at home, keep the caregivers they rely on, and receive critical protection from financial exploitation and abuse.

AARP representatives and other opponents of the cuts argue that the cuts are also short-sighted financially.

Georgians needing long-term care have no alternative to nursing homes if they lose the services and support needed to remain in their homes. Expensive nursing home stays raise Georgia’s Medicaid spending, which already tops $8.4 billion annually.

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