Sunday, September 25, 2005

Massachusetts' Unsustainable fiscal Policy

The City of Cambridge and the State of Massachusetts has an unsustainable fiscal policy.
This needs to be corrected immediately!
The State of Florida has 1/2 as many nursing home beds as Mass, per capita of elderly population. What this means is that Mass needs to expand home care, and help seniors and persons with disabilities stay in their own homes as long as is feasible.
For the last ten years other states have taken effective action to reduce over dependence on nursing home care. They have instituted home care programs that are as much as 10 times less costly to the tax payer. Mass needs to catch up fast, as our budget cannot continue to bend over for the instirutional care lobby. People who need nursing home care shopuld be provided the best possible care, and that is not possible when homes are flooded with those who want and can remain in their own homes.
The cost to the taxpayer has risen 17% from 2000 to 2004, and is choking the budget. The "waiting list" for moving out of nursing homes and back into the community has been reported to be as many as 700! The stste needs to address this problem with a comprehensive plan, not political knee jerks. The first move should be HELPING seniors and PWD's on SSI remain at home by removing barriers. By barriers, I don't just mean visitability, but the disparate tax burden must be removed. Living on extremely limited fixed income does not work when medical bills and taxes together make up all of ones "income." the State must provide meaningful property tax relief for seniors, and raise the income limits from $20,000 to $40,000. The State MUST include people who are unable to work as a result of their disabilities, surving on SSI, statutory tax relief equall to that of seniors under clause 41. Currently max SSI is $693 per month. Taxpayers cannot afford to push these "property tax payers" out of their homes and into institutions where not only do they not pay taxes anymore, but it now costs 20 times as much the SSI income to support them in the nursing home!!!
In addition, the State should provide for waivers of fees, such as the luxury tax on that old car with HP plates used as a medical necessity! And why are persons with disabilities surviving on SSI not even covered by any "program" in the City of Cambridge? Is this the case in all the cities in Mass?
It is one thing to support home care, but this must include helping seniors remain in their own homes in the first place. Comprehensive property tax and fees reform as an incentive is needed. It makes no sense to tax folks out of their homes and into nursing homes and then put them on a long wait list to be returned to the community! END THIS VICIOUS CIRCLE!!!
Another issue is accessibility. How can one return home if the house is not made accessible? In the past housing was not built with the needs of seniors and people with disabilities in mind. Today, we should NOT be regreating the problems of the past. I believe that we should require all new homes to be built to the standards of Visitability. More on this later.


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