Testimony of the Hospital to Home Program Coordinator, April 21, 2016.

On April 21, 2016, Access Living’s Hospital to Home Program Coordinator testified in front of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is Larry Hamilton, and I am the Hospital to Home Program Coordinator at Access Living, a pilot program which is funded through the Balancing Incentive Program line item in the Department of Aging budget. Access Living pioneered this project, which is long overdue. We also call this nursing home deflection. This program helps eligible hospital patients avoid a nursing home placement after a hospital stay by offering flexible supports and funding. The goal is to decrease long-term admission into nursing facilities and allow people to age comfortably in their own homes. I hope I don’t have to remind you that this type of support saves the State of Illinois money, as community based services are much less costly than nursing facility services.

The most important thing to understand about this program is that we help people to move into their own homes through two main functions. First, we help them secure a voucher for housing using bridge subsidies. At this time, these vouchers are secure. Second, we assist them with transitional supports like furniture, bedding, everything you need to move into a home. This is the part where state money helps, and it is not happening because of the budget impasse. Nor are funds coming through to pay my salary.

Does this really matter to the people I help? Let me share a story.
One of the people that contacted me was a man who had been a truck driver for 20 years. He basically lived in his truck. One day he had a major stroke while driving and ended up in the hospital. The hospital shifted him to a nursing home, and this was really hard for him. No one listened to him. His roommate put him in touch with me and together we began working to secure a Section 8 voucher. We found him a place to live. However due to the state budget crisis there was no money for the transitional benefits like buying a bed and furniture. His family is really poor but they love him and so they pooled together a little money for basic furnishings. Now he is out and is part of the community again.

This is just one story that highlights the work of the Hospital to Home Program at Access Living. Since we started in March 2015, we have transitioned 51 people into their own homes across the Chicagoland area. We are ahead of our goals to move 12 people per year. We are also part of a new statewide network that serves people throughout Illinois. I personally work closely with Rush Hospital and Schwab Rehab who refer people to us to move. Right now however, because of the budget crisis, the referrals are slowing down.

Because of the lack of appropriations for $3,398,400 for the Aging Balancing Incentive Program line item, Access Living is one of the Hospital to Home programs across the state at risk of eliminating these services to consumers. Access Living is still owed around $161,000 from the state in FY 16. We need this money or we will have to face a choice to close the program.

Cutting the Hospital to Home program means that real people will lose the opportunity to get the support they need to live their lives in the community. We ask you today to ensure that the Hospital to Home Program will be fully funded for FY 16 and FY 17.
Contact: Larry Hamilton, (312) 640-2153 or lhamilton@accessliving.org