Idaho Moves to Balance Budget on the Backs of Families & the Elderly

Jan 21, 2010, 17:16 ET from AARP Idaho

Proposals Hit Most Vulnerable the Hardest With Harsh Cuts to Health Care & Critical Services, AARP Launches Budget Hotline in Opposition

BOISE, Idaho, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bracing for the impact of more budget cuts from the Governor, the worst may still be ahead for the growing number of Idaho families and the elderly forced to turn to the state for the basics.  As legislators consider even greater cuts, the programs and services that deliver health care, home care and relief from high prescription drug costs could hang in the balance.    

AARP is warning legislators and the Governor of the dire effects of the proposed cuts and is sending them a simple message: Don't balance the budget on the backs of the state's most vulnerable residents.   This morning AARP launched its Idaho Budget Hotline (1-800-232-0581) to connect people to their legislators to voice concerns and express opposition to some of the cuts being considered.

"These proposals could eliminate the safety net for hundreds of thousands of Idaho residents at a time when they need it the most," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.  "A responsible budget doesn't leave our state's most vulnerable citizens out in the cold – we're connecting voters to their legislators to deliver that message very clearly."

AARP stands in strong opposition to the additional budget cuts to the Department of Health and Welfare and the Commission on Aging, both of which are still reeling from last years cuts (10.5% for Health and 8% for Aging).  The new round of Health and Welfare cuts proposed by the Governor, coupled with much more drastic ones being considered by the Legislature, could serve to significantly reduce health care services, including affordable prescription drugs, to over 217,000 children, families and elderly.  Any more cuts to Aging could result in slashing in-home services for older people forcing them into costly nursing homes.    

"This budget is a big step in the wrong direction for Idaho families and elderly residents – it delivers the harshest blow to those populations least able to bear it," added Wordelman.  "We're calling on Governor Otter and our State Legislators to deliver a better budget than what's being considered right now – it is simply too harsh for too many Idahoans."

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with 180,000 members.