The Senate gave approval Thursday to a measure aimed at protecting services for the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Senate Bill 694 shields several programs administered by the Department of Human Services by mandating their FY 2016 funding levels must remain unchanged through FY 2017. Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, Sen. Kim David, R-Wagoner, Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, were the architects of the legislation.
“The budget bill we approved in the Senate this week protects core functions of government like education and healthcare and helped avoid catastrophic cuts in other areas. This measure strengthens those efforts by ensuring the programs that aid the most vulnerable adults and children in our state will not be cut,” Griffin said.
Funding for the ADvantage program is among those receiving protection under SB 694.
“I believe, given the option and the ability, most seniors would much rather remain in their own homes rather than going to a nursing home,” David said. “The ADvantage program provides home healthcare and other services so older Oklahomans can stay in their own homes. It’s far less expensive than the cost of a residential facility, but without these home services, many of these individuals would have no other option than to leave their homes.”
SB 694 also maintains 2016 funding levels for adult day care, as well as protecting funding levels for programs serving developmentally disabled children and adults.
“We must protect the services that our most vulnerable citizens rely on,” Nelson said. “This has been a very difficult budget year, and many hard decisions had to be made, but I am grateful we were able to find a way to protect these programs that are so critically necessary for the most vulnerable children, adults and seniors.”
The bill next will be heard in the House.