The Louisiana Council on Aging Directors Association is notifying all its members that a 24 percent cut to the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, or a loss of $6 million, means 139 state-funded senior centers will be forced to close and the Medicare prescription assistance program offered through the state office will be suspended.
According to Council Spokesperson Howard Rodgers, the senior center program serves as a gateway for many older Louisianans to state services that help them stay independent and healthy. Most offer a variety of programs such as Senior Rx for Medicare enrollment, meal and nutrition programs, transportation, wellness education and recreation programs.
A letter from the Council on Aging Directors Association being delivered today to every State Legislator states, “As you return to the Capitol on Monday June 18, we beseech you to support an increase in revenue to fund these vital programs for our seniors. The Senior Center Program has not had a change in the funding formula since the 1980s. We feel like we invented the statement to ‘do more with less.' It should also be noted that the Councils on Aging are not even funded at the current census level, but at the 2010 census.”
Rodgers said there are nearly 1 million Louisiana residents aged 60 years or older.
“These are Legislators' constituents and our clients," Rogers said. "We know it is not their intention to destroy a wonderful program that is in each of their Parishes. But if this budget stands as is, a 24 percent cut will definitely do this."