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Letter: Ponoka resident questions funding changes for seniors

Dear editor,

Being a senior on a fixed income of about $24,000, I have learned to budget. If an item is needed, I investigate pricing hoping to avoid interest.

The Alberta Seniors Benefit program is being helpful. Since my hip replacement, I need foot care. Provincial benefits did pay the full charge. Now they pay only $26 of the usual cost of $40.

In the first year, the government paid the full cost of doctor-prescribed Life Line. Now, due to government cuts, they pay one half.

I needed an ambulance and hospital care for kidney failure. The province paid. Post hospital, I needed several trips to the Edmonton Kidney Clinic. Thankfully, Ponoka handi-van took me for several trips, waited and returned me. AADL paid 12 cents per land unit of distance of the hundred of dollars it cost.

What is better? Pay the full cost of the hospital and ambulance care needed for serious illness or pay the lesser full cost of needed care before the cost of an ambulance is necessary?

Should the Alberta government first consider our real needs instead of the high cost wasted on highly positioned people?

Jena Zelasek,

Ponoka

Information provided by the office of Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr:

As a supplement to Government of Canada programs, seniors in Alberta have access to a range of Government of Alberta supports that includes both financial assistance and health benefits. For example, the Alberta Seniors Benefit program assists with monthly living expenses. Assistance with health and personal supports is available through the Special Needs Assistance for Seniors program and the Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors programs.

Special Needs Assistance for Seniors provides eligible low-income seniors with assistance toward the cost of essential health items, such as diabetic supplies and mileage for long‑distance trips to see a medical specialist. The program also funds podiatry expenses up to $26 per month for eligible seniors. The assistance funded by the Special Needs Assistance for Seniors program toward the cost of essential health items amounts has not been reduced. Although benefit maximums and frequency limitations do exist.

With respect to personal response (lifeline) services, the Government of Alberta provides up to $20 per month toward monthly monitoring fees. In July 2020 the amount covered for monthly monitoring charges changed from $31 to $20. Changes in the amount funded for this expense are due to the emergence of products that have come down in costs and are now more readily available.

For more details on the expenses currently considered by the Special Needs Assistance for Seniors program, visit www.alberta.ca/seniors-financial-assistance.aspx.

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