On Friday, August 16, a group of people with disabilities rallied at the Offices of the Department of Human Services at 401 South Clinton. They called on DHS Secretary Michelle Sadler to do a better job of including the voice of people with disabilities in decisions regarding the Home Services Program. The Home Services Program offers people with disabilities support to live independently in their own homes and to be productive at work. “People with disabilities were involved in the development of the program and people with disabilities are most affected by the program,” said Tom Wilson, a member of Access Living’s Health Care Policy Staff. “Yet, the Department of Human Services is not including people with disabilities in the process to change the Home Services Evaluation Tool.” The Department of Human Services is currently modifying the process for determining who is eligible for the program. The result of the process will impact many people with disabilities.
A small delegation prepares to go up to the offices of Director Michelle Sadler and Directory Julie Hamos
Under Home Services, people with disabilities get personal assistance with critical activities such as bathing, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, cooking and cleaning. Without Home Services, thousands of people with disabilities would end up in nursing homes. “My personal assistant is a key link to my independence,” said Henry Williams, who is enrolled in the Home Services Program. “Without Home Services, I would probably end up in a nursing home.”
The protestors at the DHS Office also called on Secretary Saddler and Illinois to do more to take advantage of Federal Medicaid match opportunities. The Community First Choice Option, a Medicaid program that would provide home and community-based services, would enhance the Federal match from 50% to 56%, saving Illinois valuable resources. “A few years ago, Governor Quinn committed to rebalancing Illinois’ system of long-term care from institutional to community support,” said Wilson. “We applaud that commitment. But in order for the commitment to be a reality, Illinois needs to take advantage of Federal opportunities and needs to include people with disabilities in the decision making process.”
1. People with disabilities and their advocates must be included in the process of adopting a unified assessment tool for long term care as required by the Balancing Incentive Program. Many members of the community have a huge stake in the results and they know more about their needs than a state employee or an academic researcher. Nothing About Us Without Us!
2. The Community First Choice Option is a powerful tool that Illinois needs to employ to help rebalance long term care in Illinois. We have seen more lip service paid to Olmstead Implementation but not enough action. The enhanced match means a bigger bang for the buck and new resources for the state to develop a stronger community infrastructure.
3. The Maximus contract needs to be canceled as it has been shown that they have canceled or attempted to cancel Medicaid for people who qualify and it creates dangerous situations as people struggle for months to get services back.
4. We want to meet with the Director of the Department of Human Services about these issues.