April 2013

As Home Care Funding Crisis Continues, Seniors Join Faith Leaders to Call On Lawmakers to Pass Emergency Funding

(April 11, 2013, Springfield, IL) — Seniors, faith leaders, ministers, and community advocates staged a major rally and prayer circle on the 3rd floor of the State Capitol to call on state lawmakers to pass emergency funding to save Illinois’ home care assistance program. Seniors then lobbied state representatives and senators about the need to take immediate action to avoid the collapse of the Community Care Program (CCP).

The rally and lobby day received extraordinary TV and online press coverage.

Watch Springfield WCIA CBS 3:

Watch Springfield WICS ABC CH 20:

In addition, Illinois Issues blog reported on the senior lobby day:

Helping senior citizens remain in their homes is preferable for the state from a financial standpoint, since the Department of Aging estimates the costs would be as much as four times higher to pay for an individual placed in round-the-clock care in a nursing home.

The Department of Aging estimates 96 percent of the money it receives from the General Revenue Fund goes to the program. The department says the program was underfunded last fiscal year, as well. Part of the reason why the program is facing a shortfall is because it had to use some of the money it received this year to cover last year’s costs.

Jacquie Algee, executive director of relations for Service Employees International Union health care, said smaller providers that primarily rely on the state for their operations are most at-risk if the additional funding is not found. “It’s been a problem because it happens every year,” she said. The Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers estimates that one-third of its members depend heavily on funding from the Department of Aging and would not be able to continue operations for more than 30 days without it.

On March 15th, the Department on Aging released a letter to notify all home care agencies and providers that the Community Care Program completely ran out of money. The state program funds home care for 80,000 seniors and allows them to live in their own homes instead of being forced into costly nursing home facilities. In addition to protecting the dignity, privacy and security of seniors, home care assistance also saves the state hundreds of millions by avoiding costly institutional care.

The Community Care Program through the Department on Aging serves seniors and faces a total shortfall of $313 million; $173 million in previous liability from FY12, and $140 million operating deficit in FY13.

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On Tax Day, Seniors and Home Care Workers Protest Sears for Abusing Corporate Tax Loopholes

Seniors Ask: “Where is Our Lifetime Warranty to Living Independently?”

HCII Tax Day Protest at Sears 04_15_13(April 15, 2013, Chicago) — Seniors, community advocates and home care workers held a Tax Day protest outside a Sears store in downtown Chicago to call on the corporation to pay its fair share in taxes.  Seniors said it was important for large corporations to stop using — and abusing — tax loopholes and instead should be paying their fair share in taxes to fund vital home care services that keep seniors living independently.

Seniors and community allies delivered a tax bill to the store’s business office and asked for their own “lifetime warranty to living in their own homes.”

On March 15th, the Department on Aging released a letter to notify all home care agencies and providers that the Community Care Program (CCP) completely ran out of money. The state program funds home care for 85,000 seniors and allows them to live in their own homes instead of being forced into costly nursing home facilities. In addition to protecting the dignity, privacy and security of seniors, home care assistance also saves the state hundreds of millions by avoiding costly institutional care.

The Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers (IACCPHP) says that without emergency funding the state’s home care system could collapse. The Association says that more than a third of its members have only 30 days to survive if the state’s funding is not restored immediately. Sears_taxday (8 of 11) (2)

Seniors, community advocates and home care workers are pushing state lawmakers to pass emergency funding to save the home care program immediately. The Community Care Program faces a total shortfall of $313 million; $173 million in previous liability from FY12, and $140 million operating deficit in FY13.

 

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UPDATE: Illinois State Senate Passes Emergency Funding Bill to Save Home Care Program that Serves Seniors!

Thousands of members came to Springfield to make our voices heard and speak out against budget cuts.

Thousands of members came to Springfield to make our voices heard and speak out against budget cuts.

Victory!  Emergency Funding Bill for Community Care Program Now Moves to Gov. Quinn for Signature

CONTACT: Scott Vogel, scott.vogel@seiuhcil.org

(April 25, 2013, Springfield, IL) – After several months of intense grassroots activism and lobbying, letter writing and phone calls by seniors, home care workers, and community allies, the Illinois State Senate passed emergency funding today to save the Community Care Program (CCP) in the Department of Aging (DOA). The House of Representatives first passed its supplemental funding bill on April 19th. The home care funding bill now moves to Governor Quinn’s desk who is expected to promptly sign it.

The Community Care Program provides home care assistance to over 85,000 Illinois seniors and allows them to live independently in their own homes without being placed into nursing home facilities. The Community Care Program also employs 30,000 low-wage home care workers.

On March 8, the Department of Aging sent a letter to home care service providers that the DOA would completely run out of money by March 15, 2013 and therefore, unable to process payments for services in the CCP program. The news prompted seniors and home care workers to immediately mobilize and organize to save the CCP home care program from financial collapse. The grassroots groundswell culminated in today’s announcement.

In response, SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher released the following statement:

“We thank the Illinois State Senate for promptly taking up the House’s emergency funding bill and passing it without delay to save the Community Care Program.

“Home care assistance for seniors is critically important – it is the difference between seniors being forced into nursing homes facilities and living independently with a sense of privacy, decency, and dignity.

“Today’s vote mattered greatly not only for the seniors who currently receive home care assistance but for future recipients who will one day rely on this critical program.

“We are so proud of the seniors and home care workers who quickly mobilized to protect their love ones, neighbors, friends, coworkers, and caregivers. It was a sight to behold watching so many people travel to Springfield to lobby their state lawmakers, organize rallies and events all over the state, and to call their elected officials to take immediate action.

“This is how our union defines ‘community’ – people who come together, in unity, to protect and look after each other. And that’s exactly what this fight was about – protecting our seniors.

“Illinois will continue to face burgeoning budget pressures as more and more seniors and baby-boomers retire and the demand for health and home care services only grows. That’s why it is critically important that state lawmakers fully fund home care assistance to keep seniors living in their own homes, which will save the state millions of dollars annually and up to three to four times the cost of nursing home care.

“Today we applaud our state lawmakers for doing what’s right by giving Illinois’ seniors peace of mind by protecting and funding the Community Care Program.”

-END-

Home Care Workers and Seniors Mobilized to Save Illinois’ “Community Care Program” in the Department of Aging

Home_care_rally_CCP_emergency_funding_passes_House_04_18_13FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2013

CONTACT:
Scott Vogel, scott.vogel@seiuhcil.org
Mike Truppa, mike.truppa@seiuhcil.org

(SPRINGFIELD, IL) – After several months of intense grassroots activism, lobbying, letter writing and phone calls by seniors, home care workers, and community allies, the Illinois House of Representatives finally passed a $173 million emergency funding bill today to save the Community Care Program (CCP) in the Department of Aging. The House passed the emergency funding bill by a staggering 115-2 vote.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois especially acknowledged the tremendous leadership from State Representatives Sara Feigenholtz (12th-District), Greg Harris (13th-District), and Patricia Bellock (47th-District).

The emergency funding bill, HB207, now moves to the state senate where advocates are calling for its immediate passage.

In response, SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher released the following statement:

“We applaud the Illinois House of Representatives for passing emergency funding today to save our Community Care Program which serves seniors.

“Our state representatives recognized the importance of home care assistance that our workers provide to 85,000 seniors in Illinois every single day.

“Today’s vote is a tribute to the thousands of seniors, home care workers and community allies who quickly mobilized to save the Community Care Program before it financially collapsed.

“The passage of this emergency funding bill is a testament to our community’s ability to pull together to fight for what’s right and to channel our energy to protect vital services for those who most need them.

“Seniors and families decided they would not allow our vital home care program to be slashed simply because of the state’s broken budget system, nor due to political gridlock in Springfield.

“We stood together and we won. We call on state lawmakers to take notice and work to strengthen and fully fund Illinois’ home care programs to support and empower our state’s seniors, adults with disabilities and low-wage workers.”

Homecare_post_CCP_Emergency_fundng_passes_house_04_18_13Background
The Community Care Program provides home care assistance to over 85,000 Illinois seniors and allows them to live independently in their own homes without being placed into nursing home facilities. The Community Care Program also employs 30,000 low-wage home care workers.

On March 8, the Department of Aging sent a letter to home care service providers that the DOA would completely run out of money by March 15, 2013 and therefore, unable to process payments for services in the CCP program. The news prompted seniors and home care workers to immediately mobilize and organize to save the CCP home care program from financial collapse.

The $173 million cost of the emergency supplement equals approximately 0.5 percent of the state’s total budget. The Community Care Program is one of the best investments Illinois can make in the lives of seniors. The CCP program saves the state millions of dollars every year by dramatically reducing nursing home costs and gives seniors the ability to live independently with dignity, respect and privacy.

-END-

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Indiana home care workers testify for Medicaid expansion, CHOICE funding

Indiana home care workers leapt into action last month, testifying for Medicaid expansion at the Statehouse and meeting with Muncie lawmakers to earn their support for Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled [CHOICE] expansion.

Help at Home worker Julie Martin of Michigan City traveled to Indianapolis to let her representatives know how much Medicaid expansion means to Hoosiers. Read her testimony:

Good afternoon…

My name is Julie Martin and I’m from Michigan City, Indiana. I’ve worked for Help at Home (a home care agency) in Michigan City for one year and also work for another home care agency called Global Home Health for 5 years.  I have been a health care worker for total 10 years. I’m a proud member of the largest health care union in this country – Service Employees International Union (SEIU). I’m proud to be a part of SEIU Health Care Indiana/ Illinois/ Missouri/ Kansas Local with the power of over 96,000 health care workers.  I’m here on behalf of all home care workers across the state that could not be here today to testify for Medicaid expansion for Hoosiers.

Julie Martin testifies on expanding Medicaid

Julie Martin testifies on expanding Medicaid

As a home care worker, I take care of many disabled kids and adults to make sure that they get the care they need in a familiar environment away from an institutionalized care. I make ($12.25) at Global Home Health agency and I make ($10.50) at Help at Home agency as a direct support provider. A meter reader in this state makes more than me. Although home care is a low paying and undervalued job, I love my job as a health care worker and giving care to those in need. The problem is that although I take care of others’ health, I can’t even take care of my own healthcare needs. I can’t afford to have health insurance and I have to choose between buying the food for my kids and paying medical bills. I work two jobs and it is still not enough. Does it make sense to you that home care workers can’t even afford health insurance? Currently, HIP (Healthy Indiana Plan) covers about 40,000 Hoosiers and there are 800,000 uninsured Hoosiers like me still out there without insurance. Expanding Medicaid would let over 400,000 Hoosiers access insurance that covers the services we need without forcing us to decide between paying for health care and paying other bills. HIP, on the other hand, does not cover crucial services like dental and vision care and includes co-payments that will discourage low income people just like me who live paycheck to paycheck from getting necessary care.

HIP was created with a good intention – to fill the gap in insurance coverage with the resources we have. We appreciate that. But it is not enough and leaves hundreds thousands of Hoosiers without access to any health insurance, and the program has serious limitations even for those who can enroll. Now we have a great opportunity to expand Medicaid. I respectfully urge the Governor to have a heart for uninsured Hoosiers like me and expand Medicaid so that and we can take care of those in need. It’s time to consider what’s best for Indiana and expand Medicaid to the 400,000 Hoosiers who we’ve left behind for too long.

Sincerely,

Julie Martin

 

Later in March, workers and consumers from Help At Home Muncie met with State Representatives Tom Saunders and Sue Errington to fight for full funding for the CHOICE program that helps to provide care for Indiana residents who are not eligible for Medicaid. Though funding shortages continue to threaten this important program in our area, after meeting with our members and consumers, Errington and Saunders were successful in getting the funding partially restored.

Meeting with Muncie legislators on CHOICE funding

Meeting with Muncie legislators on CHOICE funding

“Our meeting was warm and informal, and resulted in positive support from Representatives Saunders and Errington,” said Muncie Help at Home member Lesa Langdon. “It always feels good to bring our concerns directly to our legislators and have them addressed.”

We’re still fighting for full CHOICE funding all over Indiana, but this success is a great reminder of how important it is for SEIU members to share our personal stories with lawmakers in order to win for our consumers and our communities.

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Downstate Lawmakers Hold “Walk-a-Days” With Child Care Providers to Learn About Vital Programs for Working Families

State Rep. Jill Tracy, Quincy, IL

State Rep. Jill Tracy, Quincy, IL

State Senator Darin LaHood (Peoria-37th District) and State Representative Jill Tracy (Quincy-94th District) recently participated in separate child care “walk-a-days” to learn first hand what it’s like working as a child care provider and to learn from parents about the difficulty of being able to afford quality child care.

(Watch this incredible video of Senator LaHood, a Republican, articulate why Illinois’ child care program is so important to support working families and single moms).

The Peoria Journal Star acknowledged in its report on Apr 8th, quoting Sen. LaHood that Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program allows single moms and low-income families to find work to better their lives — and saves the state money. Sen. Darin LaHood, Peoria, 04/08/13

About 85,000 families and 160,000 children in Illinois take advantage of the services provided by the Child Care Assistance Program.

LaHood said meeting with a few of those 85,000 was eye-opening.

“When we’re looking at a state with a $9 billion deficit where we have a severe fiscal crisis in the state, we’re always looking where to cut back,” he said. “From my perspective, we have to look at where tax money is well spent and programs that are saving taxpayer money, and from this program, looking at the small amount of money Patricia gets from state funds to take care of the children so Bernetta can work full time in the private sector — to see that is a good example of money well spent.”

Henry gets paid $15.53 per child for each full day of care, but that’s not the reason she looks after the children.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about the kids,” she said. “With the senator coming and seeing firsthand to understand what I do, I think he sees that.”

Parents and child care providers continue to call on state lawmakers to make child care assistance more affordable. Advocates are pushing legislation (SB 2315 / HB 2244) to lower co-payments in the Child Care Assistance Program for low-income parents and single moms.

Oftentimes even a slight raise or increase in income makes families ineligible for child care services leaving them to cover the full cost of care which is still beyond their means. This is known as “the cliff effect” – a policy that punishes working families and single moms and forces them to choose between getting a raise and keeping access to child care services.

“Affordable Quality Child Care” (SB 2315 / HB 2244) makes child care co-payments more reasonable by creating a tiered system where co-payments rise with families’ incomes. The average low-income family spends a dramatic share of their income, 93%, on basic necessities such as housing, food and transportation leaving only 7% for child care and other expenses.

The Child Care Assistance Program is one of the single best investments the state of Illinois can make in the lives of working families. The program supports over 160,000 children in community and home-based settings and allowing over 85,000 families to work and contribute to our state’s economy.

CCAP supports and empowers working families to become and remain self-sufficient. It improves the lives of our children and prepares them for both school and life; gives parents the ability to work and better their lives; closes the education gap; and reduces inequality.

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Press Release: SEIU Launches Ad Campaign On Home Care Crisis Jeopardizing 80,000 Illinois Seniors

Ad Blitz Urges Lawmakers to Pass Supplemental Funding for Embattled Community Care Program Homecare_SJR_ad_CCP_funding_crisis_04_10_13

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 10, 2013

CONTACT: Mike Truppa, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, mike.truppa@seiuhcil.org

SPRINGFIELD, IL – After nearly a month of political stalemate on efforts to resolve a financial crisis threatening home care services for more than 80,000 Illinois seniors, the union representing home care workers launched a comprehensive paid media and field campaign on Wednesday urging lawmakers to pass supplemental funding to save the program.
SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, which represents 30,000 home care workers who participate in the financially distressed Community Care Program, initiated a multi-tiered campaign to alert the public to the funding woes that have already caused service cutbacks in some markets around the state.

Watch the ad here.

The campaign will include:

• Broadcast TV, print and on-line ads
• Multiple rounds of direct mail to seniors and the union members across the state
• Call programs to patch seniors and union members through to their lawmaker

“The fate of 80,000 seniors and 30,000 home care providers is hanging in the balance while home care funding is held hostage to partisan gridlock,” said SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana President Keith Kelleher. “This is a program that not only allows seniors to continue to live independently, but also saves the state money it would otherwise have to spend on long-term institutional care. Morally, politically and financially, we can’t afford to short-change our seniors.”

Legislators allowed CCP to run out of money on March 15th – leaving its coffers barren through the remainder of the fiscal year – despite warnings of potentially catastrophic repercussions from the association representing agencies that provide home care.

In a letter sent to lawmakers in early March, the Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers (IACCPHP) urged them to pass a $173 million supplemental appropriation for CCP and “avoid a collapse of the homecare agency infrastructure.”

Without that infusion, the Association predicted that 37 percent of its members would not survive the fiscal outage.

The union has established an on-line hub for the public to take action to urge lawmakers to address the escalating crisis: www.saveseniors.com
-END-

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As Illinois’ Home Care Funding Crisis Continues, State Representative Mike Bost Serves as Home Care Worker for Seniors

WAD_Homecare_Rep_Bost_(March 26, 2013, Carbondale, IL) – State Representative Mike Bost (R-115th District) chose to spend his morning today cleaning the house for a married couple who are also his constituents: Chauncey, 70-years-old and Christina Wilson who is 69. Mr. Bost wanted to experience firsthand the value of the state’s Community Care Program at the Department of Aging which allows 80,000 seniors in Illinois to live in their own homes instead of being forced into expensive nursing home facilities.

But right now Illinois’ home care program is in dire crisis. The Community Care Program is literally out of money despite urgent calls to state lawmakers from seniors, home care providers, and community allies to pass emergency funding to save the program. The Community Care Program faces a total shortfall of $313 million; $173 million in previous liability from FY12, and $140 million operating deficit in FY13.

It was under this backdrop that Rep. Bost shadowed Ms. Josie Ball, a home care worker with ADDUS for five and a half years.  Josie has served as the Wilsons’ home care assistant the last two years.

Watch the Carbondale ABC News WSIL report:

 

“Without my personal care and attention, there is no doubt the Wilsons would have to be placed in a nursing home which is exactly where they don’t want to be. If the state slashes or eliminates the Community Care Program, they simply would not be safe,” said Ms. Ball. “I feed them. I remind them to take their medication. I do all the little things that allow them to live at home.”

Both Chauncey and Christina Wilson suffer from a variety of health issues.  They both have diabetes.  Chauncey suffers from heart complications and extreme fatigue. Christina is still recovering from brain surgery and chemotherapy two years ago.  She still suffers from depression from her surgery and can’t do the basic tasks she used to love to do such as cooking, shopping, and keeping her home clean to invite guests over.

“I was someone who always worked, and never depended on anybody. It was how I lived my life. But now, after my surgery, I just can’t do the things I used to anymore,” said Christina Wilson.  “It’s painful, but at least I can live in my own home.”  Ms. Wilson is frustrated about her memory loss, and often loses her place both in conversation and when she is in public.  Ms. Wilson is quick to acknowledge the emotional support she receives from Josie.

On March 15th, the Department on Aging notified all home care agencies and providers that the Community Care Program completely ran out of money.  In addition to protecting the dignity, privacy and security of seniors, home care assistance also saves the state hundreds of millions by avoiding costly institutional care.  The Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers (IACCPHP) says that without emergency funding the state’s home care system could collapse. The Association says that more than a third of its members have only 30 days to survive if the state’s funding is not restored immediately.

“It’s not right that our seniors should be put in this awful predicament worrying about whether their home care assistance will be cut, or whether they’ll be forced into a nursing home,” said Josie Ball. “We need state lawmakers to commit to fully funding home care services immediately to protect our seniors.”

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To Understand the Struggle of Working Families, State Representative Kathleen Willis Holds “Child Care Walk-a-Day” With Home Provider

WAD_State_Rep_Kathleen_Willis_childcare_Addison_IL_04_05_13(April 5th, 2013, Addison, IL) — State Representative Kathleen Willis (77th District) visited a home-based child care provider, Alma Reyes, today to learn and witness firsthand her vital work in caring for and educating young children.

Ms. Willis played, read and engaged with children at Ms. Reyes’ home as part of a “walk-a-day” to learn about the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).  Alma explained to Rep. Willis why providing child care assistance supports single moms and low-income families — especially the urgent need to fully fund the program and to make quality child care affordable for all working families.

Alma Reyes provides child care for about a dozen children throughout the day – six in the early morning hours, and another six children in the afternoon and evening.

“I’m providing a safe, nurturing and healthy environment for single moms and families who want to work to better their lives.  But to build a better life you have to have a strong foundation.  You have to know that your precious little ones are safe and will be cared for.  I’m proud to say that I, and other child care providers, provide that foundation.  It’s why we need to make child care more affordable for all working families — not cut this assistance.”

Parents and child care providers continue to call on state lawmakers to make child care assistance more affordable. Advocates are pushing legislation (SB 2315 / HB 2244) to lower co-payments in the Child Care Assistance Program for low-income parents and single moms.

Oftentimes even a slight raise or increase in income makes families ineligible for child care services leaving them to cover the full cost of care which is still beyond their means. This is known as “the cliff effect” – a policy that punishes working families and single moms and forces them to choose between getting a raise and keeping access to child care services.

“Affordable Quality Child Care” (SB 2315 / HB 2244) makes child care co-payments more reasonable by creating a tiered system where co-payments rise with families’ incomes. The average low-income family spends a dramatic share of their income, 93%, on basic necessities such as housing, food and transportation leaving only 7% for child care and other expenses.

The Child Care Assistance Program is one of the single best investments the state of Illinois can make in the lives of working families.  The program supports over 160,000 children in community and home-based settings and allowing over 85,000 families to work and contribute to our state’s economy. CCAP supports and empowers working families to become and remain self-sufficient.  It improves the lives of our children and prepares them for both school and in life; gives parents the ability to work and better their lives; closes the education gap; and reduces inequality.

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Victory for Morrison Workers at St. Louis University Hospital!

victory photo

On Wednesday, April 3rd, Morrison cafeteria workers at St. Louis University Hospital voted overwhelmingly to organize their union and join SEIU Healthcare IL/IN/MO/KS.

Morrison is owned by Compass, one of the 7 largest companies in the world, and last year alone raked in $1.3 billion in profits! Yet, Morrison workers at SLUH found themselves falling further and further behind each year.

“Between us we have over a decade of experience at Morrison, yet we can’t get consistent raises over 24 cents. Not even the extra penny to make it a full quarter!” said Beverly Chatman, a Catering Associate, and Tray Line Lead Carla Hemphill. “With a union, we will have a voice over our raises and know exactly what to expect every year – that’s why we voted yes.”

Workers stood strong against their employer’s attempts to squash the organizing drive, continuing their struggle in the face of mandatory captive audience meetings, intimidation from management, and harassment. These obstacles were no match for the will of the workforce to improve their jobs and the future for their families. The organizing committee delivered a strong victory on Election Day despite Morrison’s shameless tactics.

Morrison workers join over 500 other SEIU Healthcare IL/IN/MO/KS members already working at SLUH as technicians, nursing assistants, and other service and maintenance positions, who organized last summer and are currently bargaining their first contract. Existing members at SLUH stood side by side with Morrison workers in their quest for a voice on the job, participating in ‘sticker days’ to publicly show their support.

Morrison workers are now planning their next steps to win a strong first contract. Congratulations and welcome to our newest members!

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