MAYVILLE - The Office for the Aging will be requesting a $500,000 increase in its 2014 budget.
OFA Director Dr. Mary Ann Spanos presented to the Human Services Com-mittee on Wednesday to explain why there will be a large increase to her budget request prior to her budget hearing.
"I am going to be asking for a significant increase in our budget," Spanos told the committee. "I wanted to give you information on what is behind that. I wanted to give you time before the actual budget hearing to really think about that and make a decision."
Spanos made a PowerPoint presentation to the committee to show an investment in home and community services saves money and helps people. According to a National Performance Outcomes Measures Project study from 2010, 60 percent of OFA clients were similar to those in nursing homes, OFA home services are only 5 percent of Medicaid costs, and OFA services can delay nursing home placement for up to five years.
Spanos argued that by providing in-home services and diverting clients from nursing homes, more than $19 million in Medicaid savings could have been realized by Chautauqua County in 2013.
Additionally, she said people receiving care at home would still be paying income, property and sales taxes; employ homecare workers; and make community contributions through churches, charities and volunteer work.
Currently, Chautauqua County has 359 people on the OFA homecare wait list; 40 waiting for home-delivered meals due to sequestration; 177 seniors waiting for home repairs, including ramps, safety rails and bathroom modifications; and limits on dining-out tickets provided by OFA.
Because of the needs of residents, many may end up in nursing homes, when their needs could have been met by OFA, according to Director Spanos.
A budget increase of $500,000 would help an additional 420 seniors in Chautauqua County, Spanos said, in addition to saving $23 million for Medicaid.
"I'm not saying our services are the end-all and be-all," Spanos said. "But, if we give a little bit on the front end, everybody else suffers less."
The budget hearing for the Office of the Aging is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 11:10 a.m.