Cuts To Advantage Program Could Impact Thousands Of OK Elderly, Disabled
TULSA, Oklahoma - The state is closer to having a budget deal at the Capitol after a House Committee approved a budget plan Tuesday evening.
The measure adds a new $1.50 per pack tax on cigarettes, raises the fuel tax by 6 cents a gallon, raises the tax on low point beer and increases the tax on oil and natural gas production.
The bill goes to the House floor Wednesday.
If lawmakers can’t agree on a plan, however, DHS plans to make cuts to the Advantage program, which could impact more than 20,000 elderly and disabled people.
Jayne Lawson is 74 years old. She used to be active, until four years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer. The disease took its toll on her body and she has been in and out of the hospital since.
Lawson is totally dependent on the DHS Advantage Waiver Program to survive.
"I don't know what I would do without Advantage Care. I probably wouldn't make it too long," she said.
The money pays for someone to come out to her house to bathe and feed her, to help her clean and take her medicine - all the things she used to be able to do on her own.
"I have to have help, and I don't have no people," Lawson said.
Lola Edwards owns Complete Home Services, the company that supplies Lawson with the Advantage services she needs.
"A lot of times, our staff is the only person these people see," Edwards said.
She said if the budget cuts stick, more than 4,000 elderly and disabled people across the state will be affected - more than 500 people in the Tulsa area, more than 1,000 people will lose their jobs, and that is from Complete Home Services alone.
"That's an extra $50 million that it would cost the state to end this program," Edwards said.
She said she hasn't slept much since she heard about the cuts and is using every minute she has before November 30th to call legislators and make a way to fund the program.
Edwards is urging the community to do the same.
If House Bill 1035 passes, it could help fund health care services. The vote for that is expected Wednesday.