Advocates Warn of Disastrous Consequences for Health & Safety of Elderly if State Lawmakers Don’t Stop Rauner Proposal
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dan Biss and State Representative Anna Moeller joined AARP Illinois, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Caring Across Generations, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois on Wednesday to announce introduction of House Bill 1424/Senate Bill 399. These bills would protect the 36,000 Illinois seniors whom Bruce Rauner is targeting with a $120 million cut, slashing vital services they count on to remain healthy and safe in their homes.
In a proposal submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, the Rauner Administration plans to gut the Community Care Program and move 36,000 vulnerable seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid into an unproven and complicated new program called the Community Reinvestment Program. This new program contains no guarantees that seniors will receive all the services they need and allows the Department nearly unlimited authority to make unilateral cuts at any time, creating an unreliable and unstable delivery of critical services.
“I am here today to deliver a message to Governor Rauner: we are fed up with his attacks on senior citizens,” said Barbara Franklin, President of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans. “That is why we are standing with our allies today in support House Bill 1424 to ensure that Community Care Program continues to keep elderly Illinoisans in their homes as long as possible. Every senior deserves to receive the full care that they need.”
The Rauner Administration claims the Community Reinvestment Program is necessary to curb the state’s spending on home care for elderly Illinoisans. However, if seniors are denied services or experience service cuts, institutionalization will increase. For every senior who is forced into a nursing home, the state could end up paying $15,600 or more annually than it would pay for that senior to remain in the Community Care Program receiving services.
“Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease to care for in our country and 220,000 Illinois residents are currently living with this devastating disease, many of whom rely on a strong Community Care Program to keep them in their homes as long as possible,” said Andrew Kretschmar, Senior Manager of Advocacy at the Alzheimer’s Association, Illinois Chapter Network. “At a time when Illinoisans fighting Alzheimer’s are looking to Springfield to shield critical services from partisan differences, the exact opposite is happening. The Governor’s proposed cut to their services would force thousands of our loved ones with dementia to seek premature and more costly nursing home care.”
House Bill 1424/Senate Bill 399 will ensure that the Community Care Program continues to exist to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible, preventing premature and costly institutionalization. It will also codify eligibility via the Determination of Need (DON) score, setting it at 29 and shielding our most vulnerable residents from partisan budgetary differences.
“Protecting the ability for seniors to live with dignity and independence in their homes must be a priority for Governor Rauner, the legislature, and our state,” Lori Hendren, Associate State Director for AARP Illinois said. “The legislation safeguards the Community Care Program, ensures those who are eligible continue to receive critical in-home care and services, and will prevent unnecessary and premature nursing home placement of seniors across our state.”