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Long-Term Care Coalition Calls on Lawmakers to Protect Washington’s Most Vulnerable

close up of caregiver holding elderly person's hand

Proposed COVID-19 budget cuts would devastate seniors and people with disabilities

A Coalition of Long-Term Care advocates has assembled in response to recent budget reduction exercises that propose significant cuts—$220 million under the worst-case scenario—to critical services that support Washington’s seniors and people with disabilities. This broad and diverse coalition has come together with a unified voice to object these devastating cuts, in which 1 in 3 current service recipients will lose the care they need to survive.

To address the state budget shortfall caused by the economic repercussions of COVID-19, state agencies submitted detailed proposals to cut each state program by fifteen percent. Under those proposals, 20,000 seniors and people with disabilities will be left without the life-saving services they need.

“These cuts would limit options and supports, making it harder for seniors to age in place and would exacerbate the long waiting list for services currently faced by people with developmental or intellectual disabilities,” said Cathy MacCaul, AARP Washington Advocacy Director. “Vulnerable adults served through these programs would experience less support and fewer options to remain at home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dan Murphy, with the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging, worries about what will happen to people if they lose long-term care services. “People turn to Washington’s Medicaid Long-Term Care system as a last resort after they have exhausted all other options. Removing their last resort for support would be a disaster.”

“Caregivers – who are generally women, and often Black women, women of color and immigrants – care for clients who are often a high risk for COVID-19. Caregivers in our state kept showing up to work, even while risking their lives,” said Sterling Harders, SEIU 775 President. “To cut funding for the frontlines of healthcare in the middle of a global pandemic is tantamount to neglect.”

“I’m trying to get my caregivers a decent living wage, while also staying afloat myself. This is shameful to even consider cutting our pay.”—Erika, professional caregiver

“This isn’t right. My facility will not survive with these cuts, and it will make it even harder for me to hire caregivers and provide appropriate care for my residents.”—Margaret, facility administrator

Before the pandemic, many long-term care advocates and providers were concerned about our ability to meet this rising need. Cuts today will have a ripple effect that will impact services for years to come, including increasing the cost burdens in other state health programs.

The Long-term Care Coalition invites all Washingtonians to join us in objecting to reducing critical services to those most impacted by this pandemic. We encourage lawmakers and budget writers to protect our most vulnerable populations.

The Long-Term Care Coalition: Protecting the Health of Washington’s Most Vulnerable includes:

  • AARP
  • Adult Family Home Council
  • Casa Latina
  • Catholic Community Services
  • Consumer Direct Care Network Washington
  • LeadingAge Washington
  • National MS Society
  • Office of Developmental Disabilities Ombuds
  • Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action
  • SEIU 775
  • Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging
  • Washington State Senior Citizen’s Lobby
  • Washington Health Care Association
  • Washington Home Care Coalition

AARP Washington contributed this post, which they issued as a media release on behalf of the coalition on June 30, 2020.

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