Lottery losers: Despite increase in lottery revenue, PA seniors get fewer community services

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In 2009, the state’s Lottery Fund received $910 million in proceeds. That figure rose to more than $915 million in 2010, and more than $960 million in 2011, according to the state lottery’s economic and benefit reports.
In 2009, county agencies received $234.4 million in lottery funds. For 2010, $228.2 million and for 2011, it went down to $214 million.
Community services for the elderly didn’t get additional money because it was sent to long-term-care homes instead.
“It really violates the spirit of the lottery law,” said M. Crystal Lowe, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of aging agencies. Not all residents of the long-term-care homes are elderly, Lowe pointed out.
Of the residents in nursing homes receiving the lottery dollars, nearly 15 percent were under the age of 60 in 2011, the most recent year for which information is available, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
“I guess the state thought, ‘Let’s use the extra money for this instead of the agencies on aging,’” said Lowe. “I don’t like it, but I have to look at things practically.”
Lowe said she believes the agencies on aging are a more cost effective way to help seniors.
“We often serve people in the community, combining public and private resources at about one-third the cost of nursing homes,” said Lowe. “And with things like food delivery, adult day-care services and providing respite for families caring for individuals, we keep people from having to go to nursing homes.”
The amount of lottery money allocated to the Department of Public Welfare for long-term nursing care has varied over the years. In 2007-‘08, it was nearly $249 million; in 2008-‘09, nearly $300 million, and $178 million in 2010, ‘11 and ‘12.

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