Elderly, disabled to lose Oklahoma ADvantage benefits - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Elderly, disabled to lose Oklahoma ADvantage benefits

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A letter from the State of Oklahoma let Billy Walls know that he would be losing his ADvantage benefits at the end of November. (KTEN) A letter from the State of Oklahoma let Billy Walls know that he would be losing his ADvantage benefits at the end of November. (KTEN)
Billy Walls is one of more than 21,000 disabled or elderly Oklahomans who count on ADvantage benefits. (KTEN) Billy Walls is one of more than 21,000 disabled or elderly Oklahomans who count on ADvantage benefits. (KTEN)

TISHOMINGO, Okla. -- Cancellation of a key community program could leave thousands of elderly and disabled Oklahomans out on the street by the end of this month.

On October 31, the Department of Human Services sent letters to agencies within the ADvantage Care program to let them know that funding will be eliminated effective December 1.

The DHS said the agency made the decision after losing $69 million of state funding.

"It's just now soaking in," said Billy Walls. "I don't know what we are going to have to do."

Walls is bed-ridden, relying on the care of his wife and the nurses of the ADvantage care program to take care of his daily needs.

"This is going to cause a lot of hardship on me and the 20,000 other people out there," he said. "It just made me sick to my stomach."

The cutback also hits hard at Complete Home Health in Tishomingo, which provides nursing and other services to families and individuals in the ADvantage program.

"There's no solutions," said Complete Home Health director Tina Worcester. "Even though you want to take all these people home and take care of them, that's no realistic. So the legislators need to find funding for this program."

The remaining care option for current ADvantage clients is a nursing home, and Worcester says that is three times the cost of home care.

"It saves the state money and it will also put 10,000 people without a job," she said.

For now, Billy Walls and other disabled and aging adults in Oklahoma are counting on elected lawmakers to find a solution -- and fast.

"I'm going to pray... do a lot of praying to the Lord that it does go through... and maybe it will," he said.

Some current ADvantage clients could be eligible for benefits through SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) services.

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