YAKIMA - Senior citizens and health care advocates held a press conference in Yakima this past Wednesday to voice their unhappiness with proposed state budget cuts.
Lori Brown, director for S.E. Washington Aging and Long-term Care, explained that Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is proposing to cut 65 percent of Senior Citizen Service Act funds from the 2010-11 budget.
Brown said the Southeast region receives approximately $900,000 from the fund, which she said helps augment programs such as the senior nutrition program in Mabton.
The loss of money wouldn't close the program, but Brown said some meal sites would have to be closed and others wouldn't be able to provide the same service the program does now.
Brown estimated that the cuts could reduce or eliminate programs that provide support to more than 300,000 people state wide.
This includes foot care, which Brown said is very important to seniors.
"It can impact their mobility," Brown said of foot problems for seniors.
Another cut Lower Valley seniors might feel is transportation. Seniors use People for People buses to get to their doctor appointments in Yakima. With the proposed cuts, Brown said this service would more than likely be reduced drastically.
"It will tear apart the infrastructure we've worked so hard for over the years," Brown said. "To cut these services leaves little alternatives for these people. It's not good for the state, for seniors or for disabled adults."
Other services threatened by the proposed cuts are in-home care, health benefits for low-income caregivers and the basic health plan that serves people over 50. She said dental, vision, hearing, hospice, podiatry and physical, occupational and speech therapy for seniors on Medicaid would also be affected.
Brown encourages seniors to contact their legislators and the governor to give them their opinions.