Christmas Eve Surprise: Rauner Administration Withholds OT Policy from Public to Avoid Scrutiny as Effort to Cut Care Continues; Controversial Move Rammed through Administrative Process Without Stakeholders

(Chicago) Following is a joint statement from Access Living and SEIU Healthcare Illinois in response to the breaking news that the Department of Human Services submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (“JCAR”) its controversial new policy to cut home healthcare for people with disabilities before the close of business ahead of the Christmas holiday in a move that excluded stakeholders:

Rauner hands sneaky smile“After an entire year of chaos in the system of care for people with disabilities, the Rauner administration continues a game of brinksmanship that is bringing real harm to people with disabilities and the people who support their independence.

“The confusion has been coupled by threats of lawsuits, unfair labor practice charges and an outcry throughout Illinois from the very people who rely on the Home Service Program to remain in their homes and communities with dignity.

“Let’s remember how we got here: The federal decision to enforce overtime for home healthcare workers, the culmination of years of struggle for a workforce comprising many women and people of color, was never meant as an excuse to achieve “savings.” But in the process, the Rauner administration created a punitive, confusing and unevenly-applied system that has caused undue pain to thousands of people with disabilities and personal assistants who work with people with disabilities in the Home Services Program.

“The new rules the Rauner administration put forward the last day of business before the Christmas holiday have not been shared with stakeholders, nor have they provided ample time for members of JCAR to review and evaluate them. With only four business days left ahead of the Tuesday, January 10 JCAR meeting where the issue appears on the agenda, the revised rules have yet to be shared with the public and do not fully reflect the concerns and input of stakeholders.

“From what little we know that publicly was shared by the administration, it appears that the DHS is prepared to continue its harmful path of disruption and exclusion, continuing the erosion of the principle of consumer control that is the bedrock foundation of the Home Services Program.

“We call on JCAR to delay the vote on this policy until stakeholders have access to the rules as submitted, and we call on the Rauner administration to suspend implementation of these rules and to come to the table with stakeholders, including consumers, providers and advocates, to find a commonsense solution to what is a dismally manufactured crisis.”

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