Dear Editor:

Here is an open letter to Gov. Ted Kulongoski and the Oregon State Legislature.

I am a 77-year-old woman, living in the northeast corner of the state. We have a small community with limited resources. I receive in-home care and food stamps, which I am very thankful for.

I would not be able to make it otherwise. I was a public servant in our nation's school systems for 22 years. After hospital insurance and Medicare insurance my take home pay is $643.20 plus I get $100 a month from my ex-husband of 44 years.

I live on very limited income and had to do away with television, long distance phone service,and some of the bare necessities of life because I couldn't afford them. Also had to dispose of my automobile because I couldn't afford the insurance on it any more, plus gas.

The proceeds paid my taxes and house insurance for this year. At the end of each month there in never anything left in case of emergencies. I started work in a berry cannery at the age of 8 years old, so I've paid in the system for years. I always had a job, because I grew up in a family of 11 children. Because I retired in the state of Colorado I was penalized and they took $300 (approximately) away from my Social Security monthly benefits because public employees didn't pay Social Security and I had not paid into the system for the last three quarters. I have also taught in Washington state and elsewhere, where you do pay Social Security and I had 19 years credit from the time they started recording it.

I was getting 46 hours of in home care, but was reduced four hours and will be re-evaluated in early March. I know things have to be cut but, if I didn't have this service, which costs the state $428.40 a month, then I would have to go to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Nursing home facilities here in Enterprise is almost $6,000 a month, (depending on medicine). They quoted me $5,000 to $6,000, or assisted living for $2,712 a month, plus special needs. In La Grande the cost is $3,500 a month. It seems logical that a person is much better off living in their own home, where everything is familiar than to be forced into a nursing home, which would cost the state 15 times more than in-home care.

Because of arthritis I could not live on the coast because of the dampness or near a larger city where needs are less expensive. I've also been blessed with diabetes, congestive-heart failure, high blood pressure, water retention etc. that goes along with old age, and a person who has worked hard all their life. I have two metal knee replacements and have to use a walker, because my mobility is limited and "Arthur" doesn't want to leave the premises. I am allergic to dust and any chemicals, therefore I need in-home care for house keeping, and my doctor prescribed that my legs be wrapped every day. One of my caregivers, does the leg wrapping everyday and takes me to the doctor for tests on the thickness or thinness of my blood and to hospital for additional blood work and tests. My other care-giver does my in-home cleaning and grocery shopping.

I am appealing to you to not cut this program out for seniors, and people with disabilities. If the difference for me alone, from the state is $5,071.60 a month for nursing home care, and $2,283.60 a month for assisted living, just multiply that by the number of seniors, and other disabled persons that have in-home care at the present time.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter, and a look at the total picture. It's hard enough to live alone and try to get by each day with little or no assistance for daily living, especially after you have paid your dues, plus the fact that everything is getting more and more expensive.

Vivian B. Fields


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