YAKIMA, Wash.--Sequestration drastically reduced
funding in the Older Americans Act, taking money out of services like "Meals on
Wheels" and senior transportation. Until now, these programs have been dipping
into their savings to stay afloat.
But you can't run on reserves forever. That's why
the Lori Brown, the Director of Southeast Washington Aging and Long-Term care
worries about the near future if more federal budget cuts pass in the next
"Well your fund balances end up, you know
shrinking," said Brown. "You can't do that. It's not sustainable, and so now
Meals on Wheels programs are really going to be hit."
Brown said they've been relying on savings to keep
core programs, like Meals On Wheels running. But even with this effort,
communal meal sites have already been eliminated across the region like the one
in Mabton. Also, some seniors are already noticing less frequent home visits
and a very different type of meal.
"Instead of somebody going to a homebound person
and checking on them and giving them a hot meal, they'll do frozen meals for
certain period of time," said Brown.
Services like adult day care, bathing, foot care
and transportation have also taken a large hit. $83,000 this year and that could
more then double in 2014. Brown said services like bathing would be the first to
"We simply can't afford to keep all these programs
operational so we're going to be eliminating that service," said
The director said this doesn't just affect seniors
who rely on these services, it also affects taxpayers who will have to foot the
bill for more expensive cases like acute care.
Brown said Congress has the ability to prioritize
services in the budget for 2014. Her hope is that the core programs under the
Older Americans Act will be protected before senior services takes another