With their support system facing millions in budget cuts, caregiver advocates from across the Commonwealth converged at Beacon Hill for Adult Foster Care Awareness Day on March 9.
Funded through MassHealth, Adult Foster Care (AFC) serves more than 12,000 elders and people with disabilities across the Commonwealth, by providing compensation, training, and respite for live-in caregivers.
But the program was recently hit with a $2 million budget cut, as part of a larger package of cost-cutting measures announced by Governor Charlie Baker in December. Jeanne Leyden, who is director of the AFC program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) said advocates were at the Statehouse to urge lawmakers to reverse that cut, both in the current fiscal year and for FY18, where the annualized impact would be $10.6 million.
“Our main focus is helping people receive the best possible care at home, but the program also saves the state a lot of money, by helping people avoid unwanted nursing home placements,” said Leyden. “The current proposal would reduce the program rates back to the 2006 level, and we’re really concerned about how this will undermine our ability to support family caregivers.
The maximum daily cost for an AFC participant is $85– compared to the average of $180 per day for a nursing home– according to numbers distributed by the Massachusetts Council for Adult Foster Care, a nonprofit organization that advocates for more than 60 providers across the state.
The rally was organized by the Massachusetts Council for Adult Foster Care, which invited both legislators and caregivers to speak about the program changes lives. Speaking to the standing-room only gathering at Nurse’s Hall in the Statehouse, council president Linda Andrade summed up their message in a six-word chant: “AFC is community. AFC is family.”
Andrade also urged supporters to contact their legislators, which can be reached by calling 617-722-2000.
MassHealth is holding a public hearing to discuss the proposed rate change on March 17 at 1:30 p.m. at the Lazare Research Building function space at UMass Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, in Worcester.
Adult Family Care is a non-profit program at SCES that supports in-home caregivers across the Greater Boston, North Shore, and Merrimack Valley areas. For more information, visit adultfamilycare.org or call 617-628-2601.