(Fremont County, WY) – AARP Wyoming released a statement Thursday that says without a funding commitment by the Wyoming Legislature in March’s session, 127 older Fremont County residents may lose services through the state-funded Wyoming Home Services Program (WyHS).
WyHS provides help with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing for those who are in danger of requiring institutionalization, according to AARP Wyoming. “In Fremont County, Wyoming Home Services are delivered through Fremont In-Home Services.”
Converse, Sheridan, Natrona, Fremont, and Campbell are the top 5 counties with the highest number of residents enrolled in the program. Those numbers range from 116 to 163.
They cited the Wyoming Department of Health for the number of Wyomingites at risk and noted nearly 2,000 residents statewide could lose the service.
WyHS is contracted to one provider per county to provide in-home services to persons 18 years and older in Wyoming who are at risk of placement in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or institutional care.
98% of those who receive services need help with two or more instrumental activities of daily living, according to AARP Wyoming. That can be everything from preparing meals, to transportation and shopping, as well as medication management and more.
“This is a program that our state’s citizens count on to keep them in their homes and out of nursing homes,” says AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway. “And the good news for lawmakers is it helps to save state dollars. That is a win-win for Wyoming.”
The net cost of the program to the state is $2.85 million in 2020 serving 1,882 citizens at a cost of $1,517 per person per year or $211 per month as it works to slow the cognitive and physical degeneration to a nursing home level of care. This compares favorably to the cost of nursing home care, which can cost the Medicaid program $4,300 per person, per month.
“This vital program not only saves the state money, it provides our friends and neighbors a way to age in place with dignity,” said Ramsey Scott, the Alzheimer’s Association Wyoming Chapter’s public policy manager. “Eliminating this program means taking away a lifeline to seniors and family caregivers. Without it, we’ll see more Wyomingites transition to nursing homes, and more of our family caregivers – especially those caring for loved ones with dementia – suffer burnout and stop providing care.”
The program is 69% state-funded, with a local entity providing 21% funding. The program participants are expected to contribute to the cost of care as well on a sliding fee scale.
Debate on funding WyHS and the state budget will likely take place in The Wyoming Legislature the week of March 8th, according to AARP Wyoming.
Learn more about WyHS here.