Access Living Director of Advocacy
Access Living is sorry to report that as of December 31, 2016, Access Living will no longer be running the Home and Community Ombudsman Program (HCOP) for metro Chicago. Since September 2014, the Access Living HCOP provided help to people with disabilities and seniors in either the Home Services Program or the Community Care Program, and/or who were dual eligible (meaning they have both Medicaid and Medicare, in the Medicaid/Medicare Alignment Initiative, known as MMAI).
The HCOP has been funded by both the State of Illinois and the federal government as a pilot effort to serve the individual advocacy needs of people with disabilities and seniors who live in the community. Outside of Chicago, Home and Community Ombudsmen were also housed in Area Agencies on Aging. The Illinois Department on Aging has cited both the relatively low numbers of MMAI cases statewide, which received federal funding, as a reason for the termination of the HCOP grants, as well as the uncertainty of the State’s fiscal situation after December 31. The State has opted to maintain the Long Term Care Ombudsmen, who serve people in nursing facilities, as is.
Those agencies and organizations funded to provide HCOP services outside Chicago will also no longer be providing services as of December 31. Instead, those in need of HCOP services WILL need to contact the State Ombudsman’s office, housed in the Department of Aging. They are in the process of hiring a couple extra staff to handle inquiries/cases in Chicago.
We at Access Living believe strongly that the community is in desperate need of HCOP services provided by non-state employees, however. Without this program, and given the State’s capacity issues for handling these complaints as fully as they deserve, we are quite concerned about where people with disabilities can turn for help.
We urge those who have been helped by our HCOP program to share success stories by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, we are very sorry to lose this program which has helped so many deal with often challenging managed care or home services problems.