For the past month, political discourse around Illinois has focused on saving money. Medicaid in particular has been targeted for cost savings. Thousands of people with disabilities throughout Illinois utilize Medicaid community-based programs in order to live independently in their own homes, including some of the advocates traveling to Springfield today. . They will call on Governor Quinn and Illinois legislators to protect the independence of people with disabilities, and to invest in and build upon programs that enable people with disabilities to live and participate in communities of their choice rather than institutions.
“If Illinois protects and invests in community-based programs, we will be strengthening our communities and we will be saving the state money compared to the cost of expensive institutions,” said Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy for Access Living. “We understand there is a budget crisis and tough decisions have to be made,” Smock continued. “But Springfield needs to hear the voice of the disability community. We are ready to partner with Illinois elected officials on Medicaid changes in order to find a solution that works for everyone.”
Jason Carrington uses a personal assistant through Illinois Department of Human Services Home Services Program. His services are covered by Medicaid. “PA’s (personal assistants) help us get up, take a bath, lay down, and eat,” he said at a rally on Valentine’s Day last week. “Those may seem like little things to them (indicating decision makers in Illinois), but they mean everything to us.” Cutting home services will cost Jason his freedom.
PIES: Members of the disability community will call on Governor Quinn and Illinois to PROTECT People with disabilities, seniors, and workers who partner with both. INVEST in programs that support people in their own communities with cost effective supports. ENFORCE the right of people with disabilities to live in their own communities and homes. STRENGTHEN programs such as the Home Services Program, the Community Care Program, Centers for Independent Living, the Community Reintegration Program and many others ensure that people with disabilities and seniors can live in the community, and provide jobs for thousands of workers.
Advocates are circulating a statewide sign on letter with the PIES concept that can be found at http://protectillinoishcbs.wordpress.com/.
Access Living is a non-profit, Chicago-based disability rights and service organization that provides individualized, peer-based services for people with disabilities. Committed to challenging stereotypes, protecting civil rights and breaking institutional and community barriers, Access Living is a nationally recognized change agent at the forefront of the disability rights movement.