Bill to Create New Benefit for Long-Term Care in Illinois Announced

Sen. Biss, Rep. Welch & Advocates Call For Visionary Action in Face of Aging Population to Ensure Illinois Parents and Grandparents Can Remain in Their Homes

SPRINGFIELD-Sponsors of new legislation to address the accelerating crisis of parents and grandparents unable to afford long-term care in Illinois were joined by advocates at a Capitol press conference Wednesday calling on the state to take visionary action.

“With crisis comes opportunity, and if Illinois acts now it can get ahead of the problem, where too many older adults are falling through the cracks in receiving care,” said Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside), a sponsor of the measure.LTC HB5687

Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), sponsor in the other chamber, warned that attacks against Medicaid funding both in Washington and Springfield make it necessary to shore up the economic security of Illinoisans who are entering the age where they would require care-but are unable to stay in their homes with dignity.

“This bill creates a right in Illinois to access to long-term care in Illinois,” Biss said. “It recognizes the fundamental human value at stake here, recognizes the technical challenges that we need to overcome to get from here to there and begins walking us down that path.”

The legislation, House Bill 5697 and Senate Bill 2976, named the Affordable Long-Term Services and Supports for Illinois Families Act (see attachment), calls for the creation of a commission and a fully-funded trust to create a benefit for those who fall through the cracks of the current programs for care, and answers the want for seniors and people with disabilities to stay in their own homes.

At the press conference, Don Todd, a Springfield retiree, recounted how his coal miner father and mother were able to take care of his grandparents back in the 1950s, but given modern-day medical costs and the lack of good-paying jobs, this would be almost impossible without support for him and his daughter, who is about to have her 3rd child.

“Multiple generations in Illinois need a solution to how they’re going to pay for care going forward, beginning with mine, Todd said.

Organizations supporting the new legislation backed by Biss and Welch include Caring Across Generations, the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Access Living and SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

Amber Smock, director of advocacy for Access Living, a Chicago-based advocacy organization for people with disabilities, said the new legislation will help strengthen a foundational belief that has broad bipartisan support in Illinois, that seniors and people with disabilities should have the option and independence to stay in their homes instead of costlier nursing facilities.

“At the end of the day this is about independence,” Smock said.

The next step for the legislation includes plans for hearings and an effort to engage residents across the state on how long-term care needs are affecting their lives.

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