Attack on Illinois TANF, SNAP, Medicaid Right to Appeal

Below is a message from Access Living’s Director of Advocacy about proposed changes to TANF, SNAP and Medicaid. The changes would make it much harder to appeal termination or denial of services. People are urged to submit written testimony against the changes or to attend a DHS Hearing on the issue next week.

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Dear Access Living friends and allies,

We are facing a serious threat to the rights of people with disabilities and others who rely on TANF, SNAP and Medicaid (including home services). As we know, people are often terminated or denied those benefits for various reasons, and it can be pretty hard to appeal those decisions, especially on your own. The State of Illinois is proposing to make the appeals process even harder. There will be public hearings on the proposed rules in Springfield on August 25 and Chicago on August 26. People should seriously consider attending the hearings to express concern.

The proposed rules (which you can access at this link , see page 7301) do not provide customers with due process, are unnecessarily complicated and confusing, and in some cases are in conflict with the federal statutes and regulations protecting the rights of those eligible for the various benefits programs. For example:

• The proposed rules don't require adequate notices about agency actions

• They have different appeal deadlines for different programs

• They do not assure customers' access to their records for appeals

• They require appellants to pinpoint why the agency action appealed is wrong rather than requiring the agency to establish that its action is right

• They change the locations where hearings will be held to places where customers cannot attend (long term medical assistance cases are assigned to Chicago or Decatur)

In sum, under the proposed rules eligible people will be denied benefits and terminated from benefits causing severe harm. Many organizations that serve people with TANF, SNAP and Medicaid are working to provide public comment to the State on this issue, including Access Living. Many thanks to the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law for alerting us to this problem. For those who wish to attend the public hearings, the information is as follows:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 10:00 a.m. – 12:00p.m.
Michael J. Howlett Building
2nd & Edwards Streets
Springfield IL

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 1:00 p.m. – 3:00p.m
Michael A. Bilandic Bldg.
Auditorium Room C-500, 5th Floor
160 N. LaSalle
Chicago IL

The State also provided the following guidance for the hearings and written comment:

The hearings will be held for the sole purpose of gathering public comments on the proposed amendments. Persons interested in presenting testimony at this hearing are advised that the Illinois Department of Human Services will adhere to the following procedures in the conduct of the hearing:

a) No oral testimony shall exceed an aggregate of ten (10) minutes.

b) Each person presenting oral testimony shall provide to the hearing officer a written (preferably typed) copy of such testimony at the time the oral testimony is presented. No oral testimony will be accepted without a written copy of the testimony being provided.

c) No person will be recognized to speak for a second time until all persons wishing to testify have done so.

d) In order to provide for a balanced presentation of views and to facilitate the orderly conduct of the hearing, the hearing officer may impose such other rules of procedures, including the order of call of witnesses, as she/he deems necessary.

e) Persons requiring reasonable accommodation due to disability must contact the Bureau of Administrative Rules and Procedures by August 10, 2015.

f) Name and address of Agency Contact Person: Questions regarding the public hearings shall be directed to:

ILLINOIS REGISTER 10657
15 DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
Ms. Tracie Drew, Bureau Chief
Bureau of Administrative Rules and Procedures
Department of Human Services
100 South Grand Avenue East
3rd Floor, Harris Building
Springfield IL 62762
217/785-9772

We at Access Living urge you to let the State of Illinois know that changing the rules on people who have TANF, SNAP and Medicaid is basically an attack on the people who are the least likely to have resources to fight back.

Let’s go Illinois!

Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living