Gubernatorial Candidates Outline Plans To Assist Elderly

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Ernie Fletcher rolled out a plan
Wednesday aimed at helping Kentucky's fast-growing elderly
population spend their "golden years" at home.
Fletcher proposed spending an extra $15 million in the next
two-year state budget on such programs as Meals on Wheels, adult
day care and home care.
The governor also proposed a caregiver tax credit for people
providing in-home care for low-income relatives who are 60 or older
and are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Fletcher said the upfront costs would be significantly less than
the expense to care for people in nursing homes. And older
Kentuckians would enjoy a higher quality of life, he said.
"True healthy living encompasses not only our physical health,
but also our ability to live and participate freely, independently
and with dignity in ... our own homes," he said.
Fletcher, a Republican, is seeking a second term in the Nov. 6
election. His Democratic challenger, Steve Beshear, wants to
"rebalance" Kentucky's long-term care system so people have more
choices in deciding their own care, Beshear spokeswoman Vicki Glass
"When consumers are given the freedom to choose their care and
negotiate their own rates, the cost of care is lower and the
quality of care delivered often improves," Glass said.
Beshear also wants to fully fund and extend a pharmaceutical
assistance program to help eligible Kentuckians pay drug costs not
covered by the Medicare prescription drug program.
Beshear's plan would allow individual seniors with incomes up to
$20,000 a year, or couples making up to $27,000, to qualify for the
assistance, Glass said. The plan would cover three-fourths of
out-of-pocket costs incurred in the coverage gap, she said.
Fletcher unveiled his proposals to a receptive audience
attending the annual Aging and Independent Living Conference at a
downtown Louisville hotel.
The governor warned that policymakers are facing a "demographic
tsunami" as Kentucky "Baby Boomers" approach retirement. If
current trends continue, Kentucky will go from 27th to 14th
nationally by 2025 in the percentage of its population over 65, he
Fletcher also proposed offering an incentive for people to
obtain long-term care insurance by protecting some of their life
savings. He also wants to expand the Medicaid provider base to
allow case managers at public housing complexes to check on
eligible Kentuckians.
The governor said he met a 2003 campaign promise by creating the
Department for Aging and Independent Living and said funding for
elderly assistance programs has grown during his term.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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