Bill Passed To Help Elderly Stay Home

By: LeahUko

LINCOLN,NE (KPTM) - A new law could potentially help nearly 5,000 elderly Nebraskansstay at home--as opposed to in a nursing home.

Lastweek, Governor Heineman vetoed a billed that would direct the state to applyfor federal grant money to help senior citizens continue living in their homes.

Heinemansaid the grant would only fund the state's federal Medicaid funds for a limitedtime.

But Thursday,lawmakers overrode the governor's veto in a 30-12 motion.

Currently,the state spends 58 percent of its Medicaid long-term dollars on nursing homecare and about 42 percent on home and community-based care. Lawmakers want thatcost to split 50-50.

Providingfederal funding for the elderly to continue to stay at home was an idea GailMiller supported.

Miller,69, has lived alone in her La Vista home since her husband passed away inDecember. She said having 24-hour in-home care with Right At Home gives her abetter quality of life than living in a nursing home.

"Iwouldn't have the freedom I have here and be able to do the things that I do athome and you've got all these people all the time with you," Miller continued. "Idon't think I would enjoy that, that much."

KristiBenning, director of client services for Right At Home, said the facility'spatients who receive Medicaid would benefit from more federal funding.

"Ourgoal is to help people maintain their dignity and respect and stay independent,at home as long as they can, come people have more support of family in townthan others," Benning continued. "Some people are completely alone and we'rethe only ones that they see."

Thebill, LB 690 will also create a task force to develop a plan to help people of65 years old.