Government budget cuts could affect local elder care agency

Effects of the sequester on the Tampa Bay area

Across-the-board budget cuts, also known as "sequester," are looming, barring an agreement on deficit reduction from lawmakers in Washington.  A local agency says the reductions will hurt hundreds.


The Neighborly Care Network, in Pinellas County, which pays for Meals on Wheels, faces steep cuts. CEO Debra Shade says the group stands to lose around $200,000. 


As a result, 100 people in the Meals on Wheels program wouldn't get food delivered any longer. Shade said, "Some of the services are easier to replace, but some are not.  Meals on Wheels is one of those services."


George Duane is a senior in Pinellas County and has been involved with Meals on Wheels for four months. He says the two things he looks forward to the most each day are reading his newspaper and getting his food delivered.  Duane said, "Knees are going.  My hands don't bend open.  I can't sit there and cook a meal."


The budget cuts for the Neighborly Care Network don't stop there. Shade says the organization could also lose $687,000 from state spending reductions. Adult daycare and transportation would also take a hit. Shade said, "Fifty trips a day.  Fifty people that we take to their doctor's office, the laboratory, the dialysis, the cancer centers, the grocery stores." 


Another 200 people would also have to be cut from the Meals on Wheels program. 


ABC Action News asked Florida Governor Rick Scott about the budget cuts.  He said, "We want to take care of families in our state. The federal government needs to do their job. Sequestration makes no sense."


Meanwhile, the Neighborly Care Network will try to find other funding sources. George Duane calls the cuts unfair.  "Just wouldn't be right for somebody to cut that out.  It would hurt them."


On Friday, some lawmakers in Washington are scheduled to meet with President Obama at the White House to see if any last-minute deal can be reached.

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