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Alcohol tax funds boost long-term care services in Maryland

About $14.3 million generated by the 2011 state alcohol tax will be used to expand long-term care services to frail seniors and adults with disabilities, officials said Wednesday.

The money will mean the seniors and disabled people will be able to stay in their homes or communities, rather than moving to nursing homes or other facilities.

"Keeping seniors and those with disabilities in their communities and closer to their families leads to a higher quality of life," said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, in a statement. "These funds will help us expand access to home and community-based care so more Marylanders who need critical health services can remain in their homes and out of institutions."

State officials and health care advocates, including those from the Maryland Health Care For All Coalition that lobbied heavily for the new tax, held an event at AARP Maryland headquarters in Baltimore to announce the move. They said 480 more people, all Medicaid recipients, will benefit from the funds.

AARP officials said their surveys show seniors prefer to stay in their homes or communities as they age.

Federal officials have recognized this and changed Medicaid rules to allow for more home care rather than institutionalization. Maryland was recently awarded $106 million in federal health care reform dollars to promote more long-term care services in the home.

Meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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