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Elderly waiver program in peril

By WENDY HOLDREN

The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch is calling on state lawmakers to focus on taxes instead of budget cuts that could impact the elderly and disabled.

At the Raleigh County Commission on Aging, Crouch joined the commission’s director, Jack Tanner, and a room full of supporters of the Aged and Disabled (ADW) Waiver Program.

More than 6,000 senior West Virginians receive services through the ADW Program, which allows them to remain at home and in their community instead of receiving nursing home care.

Caregivers in the program offer assistance with daily living, essential errands and community activities.

All of these services allow the person to remain as independent as possible in the community near family members and friends.

“I’ve been taking care of my 95-year-old mother, whose been bedridden since 2012,” shared Darrell Mann. “It would be easy to send her to a nursing home, but for her dignity, she’d rather be in her own home.”

Mann said his mother can no longer walk or care for herself, but her caregiver’s services, provided by the ADW program, are of great assistance to his family.

“She would qualify to go to a nursing home. This program saves the state government money.”

Crouch said $181 million has already been cut from the DHHR budget since 2015. Any future cuts are cuts to services, he said.

“Gov. Justice does not believe we should reduce services,” Crouch noted.

He outlined several of the proposed tax revenues, including health beneficial taxes such as a sugary drink tax and an additional cigarette tax.

“Lives are more important than numbers,” Tanner said as he took the podium Wednesday morning. “We have to convince our leaders of the value of these programs.”

Crouch also noted the economic implications of cuts to the program — nearly 10,000 West Virginians who work for these programs stand to lose their jobs.

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