Voters face a critical decision on Nov. 4, voting on Constitutional Amendment No. 1.

This amendment will have serious implications on the future of children and adults with disabilities, and seniors who want to remain in their homes as they grow older. In fact, an AARP survey indicated that 89 percent of people in Louisiana say they want to remain in their own homes and communities as they get older.

I, too, want to stay in my home as I grow older.

The proposed amendment is rather deceptive and tells voters nothing about its dire consequences. For example, if passed, it would become very difficult for the state to reduce rates for nursing homes because they would be protected. This would limit budgetary flexibility and options by legislators and policymakers for other needed services such as health care, community and home-based services, and higher education.

According to several reliable health organizations and agencies, tens of thousands of Louisiana citizens are on waiting lists for home and community services due to scarcity of funds. The waiting lists include approximately 13,000 people with development disabilities and 36,000 seniors who became ill and physically disabled later in life. These needed services average much less than the average cost of a nursing home or other institutional settings.

A “No” vote on Constitutional Amendment No. 1 will go a long way to help protect our citizens, allow them to live independently and have a quality life. So let’s help to protect home- and community-based services from budget cuts that would be enabled by Constitutional Amendment No. 1. Indeed, Louisianans are worth it.

Brenda G. Hatfield

volunteer state president, AARP Louisiana

Baton Rouge