On Wednesday, January 25, Governor Rauner delivered his third “State of the State” address as Governor of Illinois. The speech given by Rauner acknowledged that Illinois will continue to wallow in an ongoing state-level budget stalemate without bipartisan solutions, but he completely ignored a possible severe loss of federal funding. He failed to propose specific revenue solutions and ideas that would support non-profits and service providers that continue to serve marginalized communities in Illinois without a solid promise of payment.
The Home Services Program (HSP) is one of the many Illinois Medicaid programs serving 333,000 people with disabilities and seniors who want to live in their own homes. Like every Medicaid program, it is now at high risk from the double whammy of a state and federal funding crisis. Throughout the current state administration and the lengthy budget impasse, HSP personal assistants have supported 30,000 people with disabilities with critical day-to-day services at home. Governor Rauner gave no indication in the State of the State that the current Administration would improve supports for the thousands of people with disabilities and their personal assistants in the program. Instead, despite the fact that the annual cost of nursing homes versus community services is $17,000 more per person, Governor Rauner continues to press for HSP overtime guidelines that threaten the jobs of personal assistants and threaten to drive people with disabilities into institutions, robbing them of their independence.
These guidelines, originally implemented in March of 2016, wreaked havoc on and disrupted the lives of thousands of both personal assistants and consumers in the Home Services Program. Under the threat of litigation and after pushback from the community, Illinois rescinded the guidelines. After significant but controlled public input, Governor Rauner submitted a new policy to the rules process. The new policy again fails to recognize the right of people with disabilities to control their services and fails to realistically support personal assistants by cutting hours, refusing overtime, and imposing punitive and confusing rules. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) is scheduled to vote on the new proposal on Wednesday, February 15. We urge all members of JCAR, Democrat and Republican, to reject the proposal.
In contrast to the Governor’s speech today, a more accurate picture of Illinois can be seen through the lens of hundreds of thousands of people struggling at the hands of an administration that has failed to respond to marginalized communities, failed to work with non-profits and service providers, and failed to build solutions that will improve participation, integration, and independence in Illinois. The looming federal crisis in Medicaid only makes the problem worse. In order to take a positive step forward in 2017, rather than another step backward, JCAR must reject Governor Rauner’s proposed Overtime Guidelines for the Home Services Program. Our state leaders must also assert to Congress that Medicaid block granting, and other losses in federal funds, will only hurt our state.
For more information, contact Kaitlin Decero, SEIU, Kaitlin.DeCero@seiuhcil.org (312) 607-0590; Graeme Zielinski, SEIU, Graeme.Zielinski@seiuhcil.org (312) 980-9128; Gary Arnold, Access Living GArnold@accessliving.org (312) 640-2199