Yesterday marked the end of the Spring legislative session in Springfield and we wanted to share a recap of what the Legislature passed in the budget that will impact Illinois home care programs. The governor still must approve the budget before it takes effect, but it’s expected that Governor Rauner will approve this.
Community Care Program
- Funding for the Community Care Program was protected so there will not be any cuts.
- SB 3511, our rate increase bill to raise wages to $15 per hour for home care aides did not get voted on in the House before the close of session. This means that it can still be revived this November in veto session, but unfortunately it will not be taken up until then.
- Governor Rauner proposed taking back the raise for agency home care workers we won in last year’s budget; however, lawmakers ensured that there will be continued funding for that previous raise so our wages will not be cut like the governor wanted.
- Language was included in the final budget that will support the enrollment of more seniors into Medicaid starting July 1, 2019. This is very important because it ensures our state gets federal money that is available to help pay for home care for seniors, ultimately strengthening the program.
Home Services Program
- Funding for the Home Services Program was protected so there will not be any cuts.
- Despite Governor Rauner’s efforts to eliminate the $.48 raise we won last summer, lawmakers included appropriation to fund the raise. This means that while our legal battle with the governor continues to play out over our raises, back pay will continue to add up and the funding for it will be available. In addition, lawmakers included stronger language to push the governor to actually implement our $.48 raise that we hope will help us in court.
Universal Long-Term Care Bill
- This session we supported a bill that would take the first step toward creating a better home care system in Illinois that will help ensure that ALL seniors and people with disabilities in our state get the home care services they need. Although time ran out and the bill did not pass out of both chambers, the Legislature approved money to pay for a study to examine our current system and identify the unmet needs for home care services and estimate the costs of expanding home care to all. This is great news and means we are starting on a path to create a more inclusive system of care in our state that will support our friends, families, and neighbors.
As you can tell, we did not win on everything we wanted, but we did make progress and won significant victories thanks to the hundreds of home care aides, personal assistants, seniors, and people with disabilities who traveled to Springfield and made their voices heard!
Our fight for a DOA rate increase will continue into the fall and now we must focus on beginning our campaign to elect a new governor this November.
We have upcoming membership meetings in June all across the state where we will further discuss the budget deal and what our next steps are on all of our ongoing fights, click here to view all of the meeting details.
Our victories this legislative session show that we have a lot of power when we stick together and raise our voices through our union. Join us at our next membership meeting in your area to step up and get involved to make us even stronger for what’s ahead.