CARSON CITY — Growing older in Nevada may be getting more difficult as the state’s strained finances affect programs designed to keep seniors out of nursing homes and keep property tax payments low, members of a legislative money subcommittee were told Wednesday.
Despite waiting lists and a growing population, the Division of Aging and Disability Services is holding steady the number of spaces available in some home- and community-based programs that serve people on the brink of entering a nursing home, and reducing space in another.
The programs, funded by Medicaid, state general funds and tobacco settlement money provide services such as adult day care, paid companions and Lifeline 911 devices if seniors are eligible for nursing homes but want to live independently.
While those services cost less than institutionalizing a person, they are considered optional and are not legally mandated, as institutional care is.
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, objected to policies that do not prioritize in-home care.
"Where do you want your loved one? In a nursing home, or in a place where they will get a better quality of care?"
A plan to eliminate the Senior Citizens’ Property Tax Assistance program, which provides property tax rebates of up to $500 each for nearly 18,000 seniors each year, shifts much of the $5.6 million budget to elder protective services.
Carol Sala, Administrator of the Division of Aging and Disability Services, said the protective services were a priority because the department is understaffed.