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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Name:
    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Saturday, July 05, 2008

    Republican Family Values

    SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — Early last month, Jeanne Fair, 62, got her first hot meals delivered to her home in this lake town in the sparsely populated southwestern part of the state. Then after two deliveries the meals stopped because gas prices had made the delivery too expensive.

    “They called and said I was outside of the delivery area,” said Mrs. Fair, who is homebound and has not been able to use her left arm since a stroke in 1997.

    Faced with soaring gasoline prices, agencies around the country that provide services to the elderly say they are having to cut back on programs like Meals on Wheels, transportation assistance and home care, especially in rural areas that depend on volunteers who provide their own gas. In a recent survey by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, more than half said they had already cut back on programs because of gas costs, and 90 percent said they expected to make cuts in the 2009 fiscal year.

    [...]

    But older poor people and those who are homebound are doubly squeezed by rising gas and food prices, because they rely not just on social service agencies, but also on volunteers.

    In the survey of agencies, more than 70 percent said it was more difficult to recruit and keep volunteers.

    Mrs. Fair, who has limited mobility because of diabetes, lives on $642 per month in Social Security widow’s benefits, and relies on care from her son, who often works odd hours, especially during blueberry season. “He says, ‘You belong in a nursing home; I can’t take care of you,’ ” Mrs. Fair said.

    The delivered meals allowed her to eat at regular hours, which helped her control her blood sugar levels, she said. Last year she lost her balance during a change in blood sugar and spent a month in a nursing home.

    [...]

    The agencies, which have suffered from Medicare cuts in recent years, are lobbying Congress to account for fuel inflation in reimbursement rates and to reinstate special increases for providers in rural areas, a program that expired in 2006.

    [...]

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