Despite a year of plenty for state lawmakers, with overall spending almost certain to hit record levels, relatively meager increases proposed for elderly and disabled programs do little to scale back the massive backlog of Floridians seeking aid.
The state’s waiting lists for elderly long-term health services, community care, Alzheimer’s Disease assistance and help for people with disabilities would shrink by only modest percentages, despite a $1.2 billion surplus of state revenue fueling rival $75 billion House and Senate budget proposals.
Lawmakers are touting this year’s plan to spend roughly $37 million to reduce the number of elderly Floridians awaiting services. But legislators acknowledge the line won’t really be shortened by much.
With the nation’s largest number of people over age 65, Florida has a 9,000-person waiting list for community care services that help keep the elderly in their homes. Advocates say the number of people seeking services could actually be more than three times that.
But in its budget, House is looking to take 751 people off the waiting list; the Senate would add 601 Floridians for care.
Either way, less than 10 percent of those seeking coverage will gain services.
“This is penny-wise and pound-foolish not to spend more,” said David Bruns, spokesman for AARP-Florida. “The cost of people going into nursing homes is so much more. But (legislators) are taking such a small step.”
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