While the Illinois Budget will deliver painful cuts, the closure of large state operated institutions such as Murray is an opportunity to give people with disabilities the chance to live productive lives in communities of their choice, and an opportunity to invest in less costly community services. “Governor Quinn’s commitment to rebalancing Illinois’s system of long-term care, and the closure of Murray is a great step in the right direction for Illinois,” said Amber Smock, Access Living’s Director of Advocacy. “Thousands of people with disabilities are segregated in large institutions and are not given a choice to move out. With the proper community supports, the closure of Murray will give those residents the chance to thrive in the community.”
In addition to the Murray announcement, Governor Quinn announced the closure of the Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford, Illinois. The Governor also plans to close the Tinley Park Mental Health Center. The closure of Singer and Tinley Park also presents an opportunity to improve community-based supports. But, if Illinois closes acute-care settings for mental health, vital, crisis-related services for people with disabilities must be made available, especially during the transition period.
Though disability advocates are thrilled that the Governor pledged to rebalance Illinois system of long-term care from institutional to community care, it is clear that budget cuts will be felt by many across the state, including people with disabilities. In the budget address, Governor Quinn announced that, in terms of Medicaid, he proposes that the state “reconsider eligibility, services, utilization and payments” in order to bring it in line with appropriations. Tens of thousands of people with disabilities utilize Illinois’ Home Services Program through Medicaid. The program provides services that enable people with disabilities to live in their own homes. With this in mind, Access Living urges Governor Quinn and Illinois to preserve and not abridge services that support people with disabilities living in and participating in their own homes. “As Illinois moves forward,” Smock said, “it is critical that people with disabilities who transition from large institutions, and people with disabilities who are currently living in their own homes and communities, will have and will continue to have access to the services necessary to live independently and successfully in their own homes and communities.”
Established in 1980, Access Living is a change agent committed to fostering an inclusive society that enables Chicagoans with disabilities to live fully-engaged and self-directed lives. Access Living challenges stereotypes, protects civil rights, and champions social reform.