Watch The President Of Meals On Wheels Explain How Trump's Budget Devastates Senior Services

Ellie Hollander: Cutting Meals On Wheels “Doesn't Make Economic Sense,” The Program “Saves Taxpayers Millions Of Dollars Annually”

From the March 3 edition of CNN's At This Hour With Kate Bolduan:

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KATE BOLDUAN (HOST): Joining me now, the president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America, Ellie Hollander. Ellie, thank you so much for coming in ... Full disclosure, of course first, Ellie, I was a Meals on Wheels volunteer with my mom growing up in Indiana. Actually, I was just talking to her about our shared experiences just this morning with regard to our volunteer work. But what was your reaction when you heard the budget director say your program doesn't work? What was your reaction?

ELLIE HOLLANDER: Well, Kate, first of all, thanks for volunteering, and we appreciate that. Meals on Wheels has enjoyed decades of bicameral, bipartisan support from members of Congress. We're not used to being in a defensive posture. In fact, 45 years ago this month in March, President Nixon signed into law the program that enabled senior nutrition programs to be born, thus Meals on Wheels. These programs work for everyone. They work for the seniors like the woman that you just showed on the clip. Clients who -- millions of them -- who rely on Meals on Wheels every day as a lifeline, as the ability to live out their lives at home, more independently, safely, and healthfully. And, sometimes the Meals on Wheels volunteer is the only person that senior sees in a given day.

BOLDUAN: I do want to get to this though, Ellie. Of course you do not like the way that he said it, but the budget director when he said -- he is not wrong when he says the country is $20 trillion, some $20 trillion in debt. Do you understand the tough choices needed to be made in tough times.

HOLLANDER: Absolutely, and that's why cutting Meals on Wheels programs doesn't make economic sense. We know that Meals on Wheels enables seniors to stay out of much more expensive health care settings, such as unnecessary visits to the emergency room, admissions, re-admissions to hospitals, and also premature placement in long-term care facilities. That saves taxpayers millions of dollars annually. We also know that Meals on Wheels can help reduce falls and things that do contribute significantly. We spend $31 billion a year in falls alone, and we know that Meals on Wheels recipients say that just by having a nutritious meal, being nourished, knowing someone is coming to check on them, they fall less, they have less of a fear of falling. So we know that the economics are there. We've had some third parties do some independent studies as well. Brown University had a great study in 2012 that said that for every state that spent $25 more per senior on Meals on Wheels they would realize a reduction in the low care nursing home population of up to 1 percent. That translates to millions of dollars in Medicaid savings alone. So, it's a solution.


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