Springfield Update: May 11, 2016

On May 11, about 30 advocates went to Springfield to fight for a budget and to stop the unjust overtime guidelines in the Home Services Program. Here is an update from the Director of Advocacy on what happened.

First, Senate Bill 420, the Complex Rehabilitation Technology bill, passed the Illinois Senate unanimously! It has been sent to the Illinois House. This bill is designed to improve the Medicaid payment process for items like power chairs and customized scooters, as well as eliminate prior authorizations for common repairs. Please contact your Illinois House members to support this bill using this easy link .

Second, yesterday Representative Mary Flowers chaired a highly emotional hearing on the Illinois Home Services Program (HSP) overtime policy. People with disabilities, home care workers and advocates came together to highlight the stress, fear and confusion at the front lines of the new overtime policy. People expressed their fear of being at risk of being put into a nursing home. The State had a chance to respond and maintained that it is doing everything it can, given the budget circumstances. However, this is not going to solve customer and worker issues any time soon.

The hearing was intense but it didn’t stop us from continuing to raise the issue a couple of hours later when Governor Rauner was speaking at an event at the State Library. Disability and labor advocates from Chicago ADAPT, Access Living and SEIU HCII protested during the event, effectively shutting things down, the way we feel when our concerns about the overtime policy are not taken to heart. News coverage is at this link , including footage of the action and the Governor at this link . We at Access Living encourage you to contact us if you are having problems with the HSP overtime policy.

Finally, just now today a new budget bill, Senate Bill 2038 House Amendment 2 (SB 2038 HA 2), was passed through the House 110-0. This bill takes money from certain State funds to provide stopgap funding for a range of human services among other things. It is intended to help with FY 16 funding, but it is not full funding and it is not regular General Revenue money. However, at this point in the year some funding would really help a lot of programs that are in danger.

We still need to ask that the Illinois General Assembly and our Governor come to a budget solution that is meaningful and long term. Our state needs the stability of a regular budget with enough money to pay the bill. Please help continue to advocate for funding using this easy link (yes, it is ok to do it today if you did it yesterday!).

Let’s go Illinois!
Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living