Concerns loom over state cuts to elderly services

Concerns loom over state cuts to elderly services

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Looming state budget cuts have some agencies predicting dire consequences for some of the state's more vulnerable citizens. Senior centers and prescription drug discounts are two programs that could suffer.

The Lake Charles Senior Center is a huge part of the lives of the older adults. They come here for many reasons from a social life to exercise.

"Being at home most of the day, I don't get to laugh and talk like I love.  So this is a wonderful place to come to intermingle and also to get the benefits of exercise and to get the knowledge that's out there for senior citizens," said 69 year old Emily Hider.

"They quilt, they crochet, they come for socializing. I mean they do a little of everything," said Mary Jean, also a senior.

Some predict a 24% budget cut could cause senior centers to close, Though Calcasieu Council on Aging Director Jackie Green does not expect that here due to good local support...

"It is very unlikely that we will completely shut the doors of any of our senior centers here in Calcasieu Parish.  I'm almost positive and hopeful the legislature will find a way to fund us next week when they're in the special session, through the inclusion of the half cent sales tax and if not, we will begin to look at ways that we can continue to keep our doors open for SWLA seniors," she said.

But she admits if such cuts occur they might have to reduce days and hours when open. She is also concerned about cuts to a program that reduces prescription drug costs for low income seniors.

"Our department here, senior Rx department saved over $700,000 in drug costs for the six parish area."

The seniors themselves feel, it's only right to spare them cuts...

"It would be horrible because seniors need a place to go," said Hider.

Though they aren't sure about new taxes.

"We're on a fixed income and a half cent is a half cent.  I need it to pay my electric bill," she said.

"A lot of people on fixed income, some of them are just barely making it," said Jean.

Its estimated Louisiana has nearly one million residents over sixty.

Green says some of the more rural parishes with less support than here in Calcasieu could suffer greater losses.

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