Budget cuts in Oklahoma may kill a program aimed at keeping seniors in their homes, resulting in up to 10,000 home care patients needing to move into nursing homes, according to local reports.

A current budget plan tackles a $215 million shortfall by eliminating funding for the state’s ADvantage Waiver Program, which helps older adults or those with disabilities live and receive care at home.

But while nursing homes may want to boost census, an influx of residents without additional financial support could overwhelm facilities, industry experts say. The increase could put nearly half of the state’s 301 facilities at risk of closing, Nico Gomez, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers, told NewsOK.

A revenue package to remedy the shortfall through tax hikes on beer, fuel and cigarettes is currently being debated.

“These reductions are not going into effect at this time; but, if budget relief is not forthcoming, a number of these cuts will need to be initiated starting Dec. 1,” said Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Ed Lake. “We remain optimistic the Legislature will take the steps necessary to replace the $69 million in our budget to avoid these unconscionable cuts.”