Action Alert: Protect Home Services and Senior Services in Illinois

Here is an action alert from Access Living’s Director of Advocacy, Amber Smock. The bill urges Illinois residents to contact Springfield and urge legislators to support a veto override of House Bill 4351.

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Next week on Tuesday, the Illinois General Assembly will reconvene in Springfield for the first day of veto session. Veto session take place on two separate weeks; the first week is November 15-17, and the second week is November 29-December 1. Veto session is an opportunity for legislators to consider overriding any bills that the Governor vetoed over the summer, as well as introduce some other bills, usually on a limited basis.

We at Access Living want to call you to action today to give legislators a heads up that they should override the Governor’s veto on House Bill 4351, otherwise known as the Community Care Protection bill (formerly known as the DON score bill). Many of you previously worked to make sure it passed both the House and the Senate this past spring. The Governor vetoed it over the summer. We cannot, however, give up. We need your help to ask our legislators to override the veto during veto session. It is super easy to do using this link .

What does HB 4351 do? Here’s a refresher:

• Preserves the Determination of Need (DON) minimum score for home services at 29, as opposed to raising it to 37
• Prevents the State from removing 43,000 non-Medicaid eligible seniors from the Community Care Program to the Community Reinvestment Program, where they would have to pay a co-pay and would get fewer hours of homemaker service

Some things you should know about the Community Care Program versus the Community Reinvestment Program (thanks to the AARP of Illinois for the original language):

The Community Care Program (CCP) helps seniors live in their homes and community longer, avoiding premature and more costly nursing home care. Seniors with Alzheimer’s, mobility issues and other conditions that result in a need for assistance depend on CCP and their critical services. It is estimated that at any given time, 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are living at home. They and their unpaid caregivers, who number in the tens of thousands, count on the support afforded by home-based services like those under the Community Care Program.

According to the Department on Aging, Illinois is expected to have a 57 percent increase in the number of individuals 60 years of age and older over the next 15 years. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the 210,000 Illinois residents currently living with Alzheimer’s will increase by nearly 25 percent in just nine years.

In response, Governor Rauner has proposed creating a new program called the Community Reinvestment Program (CRP), which will cut nearly $200 million from CCP and in-home services for seniors in Illinois. CRP reimburses providers at less than half the current rate. Providers will not be able to provide the same services for less than half the money.

Besides not being fully funded, the proposed rules for the CRP acknowledge wait lists will be created and care will be rationed. CRP relies heavily on one-time purchases in place of direct home and community care. If CRP is created, it would cut – and in some cases gravely reduce – care for 43,000 Illinois seniors. A substantial portion of these seniors cannot be maintained in their homes with only 50% of the previous resources.

So again, please take action at this link and help save home services for thousands of people who need it!