November 18, 1999

Seniors' Advocates: Act Now
Expanded Home-Care Programs Suggested


By By Jackie Jadrnak
Journal Staff Writer

homes instead of a nursing home.
Mary Beavis, co-chair of the HOME Coalition, said she would like to see the waiting list for that program reduces, if not eliminated.  She said she's not sure how many people are on the waiting list.
It makes more sense for people to stay in their homes, said Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque, who chairs the legislative interim Health and Human Services Committee.
She added that she isn't sure what the chances are for beefing up such programs in the coming legislative session.
Besides expansion of the Disabled and Elderly Waiver, advocates said these are some of the main priorities for the coming year.

  • Revitalize the effort by a Cabinet-level group of state agencies to come up with a
plan to offer a full range of services for people who need long-term care.  "I'm not sure they're working fast enough," Feldman said.  "How long can we go on writing plans and not putting them into action?"
  • Develop a central point where people can  go to get these services.  Now, a frail elder
can end up going to eight different agencies to look for help, Beavis said.
  • Allow people who re

It's past time to prepare for the flood of people who are going to need help as they get older and more frail, according to advocates who gathered for a luncheon Thursday in Albuquerque. 
   Only 2 percent of New Mexicans who care for disabled family members or friends receive support services from the state now, according to a video by the State Agency on Aging.  And the state'' over 65 population --the group most likely to need some long-term care - will balloon 160 percent from 1990 to 2025, it said.
"One thing the elderly try to hang on to the longest is their independence," said Dick Heim, representing the Frail Elder Consortium.  "We need to provide alternatives to nursing-home care to individuals who could be served in their homes and home communities."
Tax-funded programs, through, are skewed toward institutional care, said the advocates.  Medicaid pays for about 5,000 people in nursing homes, yet only 1,850 people are funded for services on the Disabled and Elderly Waiver, said Judy Myers of the HOME Coalition, which is searching for more home based services for elders and people with disabilities.
The Disabled and Elderly Waiver uses Medicaid money to pay for services that help people stay in their

ceive services through the Disabled and Elderly Waiver to hire
and manage their own personal attendants, instead of being forced to work through an agency.

  • Offer low-income people with disabilities a "buy-in" to the Medicaid program, so
they  can work and earn an income but continue receiving Medicaid benefits by paying for a portion.
  • Establish a PACE (Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) site in rural New
Mexico.  That program offers acute, primary and long-term-care health services, as well as social

services, in one place.  One site has already been established by St. Joseph Healthcare in Albuquerque.