2017-05-20 / Viewpoints


Assisted Living Shortages

Dear editor:

Pennsylvania’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office released a report on the anticipated state budget deficit over the next two years. It’s not pretty, anticipating a $3 billion shortfall.

One of the major expenditures in each budget is the Medicaid program, accounting for nearly 23 percent of all spending. Of that, long-term care services, primarily for older adults, account for 21 percent.

That cost is going to go up since Pennsylvania’s over-85 population is the fastest growing segment in the commonwealth. It’s increasing at 10 times the rate of all other segments.

There’s a way to slow the rate of budget increases in caring for older adults, and benefit consumers.

If a person with limited financial means needs around-the-clock assistance and does not have community supports to be cared for at home, the only option is to qualify for Medicaid and be placed in a nursing facility.

What many don’t know is that the person could be cared for in an assisted living facility for half the cost, but Pennsylvania doesn’t include assisted living in the Medicaid program.

Including assisted living in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program helps the consumer, his loved ones and taxpayers. It’s time to make assisted living an option for low-income citizens who need full-time services.

Ron Barth

Other Side Of The Story

Dear editor:

Dave Spigelmyer made a good sales pitch for the shale gas industry in his essay appearing in the May 13 Endeavor, titled “Shale gas paying dividends.” But he left out a lot of information that public policy-makers should also consider.

Natural gas may be cleaner-burning than oil and coal, but we now know that gas produced by hydraulic fracturing comes with a huge risk to groundwater supplies.

Despite the misleading message contained in Mr. Spigelmyer’s essay, because of the leakage of methane in its production, natural gas production will continue to have a large impact on global warming.

Furthermore, the creation of a pipeline infrastructure to support this shale gas will create a dependency on it that only delays our transition to renewables.

We do not have the luxury of time. The ever-increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and rising temperatures threaten our future well-being.

It would be far better to create incentives for a dispersed energy system that places a much greater reliance on solar energy.

Even though the payback period for a solar installation is reasonable, it still requires a substantial sum of money “up front.” But there are numerous ways in which the state could help -- with low-cost loans to homeowners, with incentives for companies that lease roof space for panels, with property tax relief for installations, and so on.

When an industry public relations specialist tries to sell you on a public policy option, please consider the source and the motivation.

Gregory Simons

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