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Fletcher Pledges $15 Million to Aid Seniors

Gov. Ernie Fletcher pledged $15 million in state money days gone by to help senior citizen programs such as Meals on Wheels, adult day care and home care.

The Republican governor, who is seeking re-election in the Nov. 6 general election against Democrat Steve Beshear, also wants to give a "caregiver tax credit" to people who provide in-home care for an infirm, dependent relative who is at least 60, has little or no income and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Fletcher outlined his legislative agenda to help seniors -- those 65 or older -- in front of several hundred people at the 2007 Aging and Independent Living Conference.

He said he would present his plan to the 2008 General Assembly if he wins re-election.

The $5 million in new funding in 2009 and the new $10 million in 2010 for senior citizen programs would double the amount provided in the current two-year state budget for Kentucky's seniors, Fletcher said.

The money would come from surpluses in the budget, the governor said.

Health and Family Services Secretary Mark Birdwhistell said the state has a waiting list of 5,000 people for the Meals on Wheels program. The new money would eliminate that waiting list, he said.

Fletcher did not know how much the caregiver tax credit would cost the state but thinks it would "save the state money in the long run."

Under his plan, the state also would help people buy special long-term care insurance, and would collaborate with public housing authorities to provide non-medical Medicaid services to residents.

Kentucky must do more to help its aging population, Fletcher said, noting the state is projected to jump from 27th in the nation now in percentage of seniors to 14th by 2025.

Fletcher turns 55 on Nov. 12. Beshear will be 63 on Sept. 21.



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