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Council claims program to help disabled Oklahomans stay independent may lose some funding

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Health care workers say they are concerned about the future of a program that helps elderly and disabled Oklahomans remain independent.

The Home and Community Based Services Council says the ADvantage Waiver Program helps provide comfort and a sense of normalcy for Oklahomans dealing with disabilities.

Organizers say the program provides assistance for things like picking up groceries and medicine, assisting with bathing and grooming, providing housekeeping and giving respite care for other caregivers.

“Many of our members do not have family to care for them and just need a little extra help to remain in their home. Under this program, providers deliver needed care at a much more affordable rate than nursing homes,” said Steve Goforth, president and founder of Tulsa-based Oxford HealthCare and legislative officer for the Home and Community Based Services Council (HCBSC).

However, organizers claim that funding may be cut for the program because of Oklahoma’s current budget crisis.

“Preserving the ADvantage Waiver Program is the financially conservative and responsible choice. It prevents overuse of the emergency room and unnecessary institutionalization,” said Lola Edwards, president of HCBSC. “Cuts will create serious health and safety risks to the most vulnerable Oklahomans and cost the state more in the long run.”

The Council says it will deliver 500 letters of support to legislators at the Capitol on Wednesday, asking lawmakers to avoid cutting their budget.