Advocates organized the event to underscore the importance of Medicaid Home and Community Based services for supporting people with disabilities and seniors who choose to live at home instead of institutions. Illinois recently has made moves toward a commitment to community based living in Illinois. Yet, recent changes and cuts to the Medicaid Budget will make it more difficult for some people to receive supports in their own homes. United States Representative Jan Schakowsky, State Senator Mattie Hunter, and State Representative Esther Golar all joined in the event to show support for community-based Medicaid services. Addressing the crowd of Medicaid supporters, Senator Hunter said, “Just remember, Senator Hunter has your back.”
Advocates called on Illinois to support Medicaid initiatives that promote independence of people and that enable families to stay together. Michele McCullough is the mother of two severely disabled children. They both receive supports at home through the Medically Fragile and Technology Dependent Waiver. The waiver is threatened under Illinois’ new Medicaid budget. Speaking at the rally, McCullough said, “Unless the legislature acts, children will be forced to live in hospitals, instead of with their families where they belong. We are marching today to advance the rights of people with disabilities of all ages and needs, and to Save the Waiver for our kids.”
Following the rally at Daley Plaza, the advocates marched to 401 South Clinton. The group brought its message independence and community based supports for people with disabilities and seniors directly to the Illinois Departments of Human Services and Health & Family Services.
“Today is the 47th anniversary of the day that President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicaid and Medicare into creation,” said Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy for Access Living. “As we marched to 401 South Clinton during rush hour, we honored the advances in community living made possible by Medicaid and advocated that Medicaid continue to be an avenue of freedom for people to be able to live at home. “Medicaid community living is a matter of life or death for thousands of people with disabilities and seniors in Illinois. We need to see the state make choices that include people, not cut them off.”