Update and Action Alerts for Monday, February 13

A note from Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy, that lays out the week ahead, which looks to be a busy time from advocates in Illinois.

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

We're starting a very busy week! On Wednesday, there are TWO important things happening in Springfield. Plus today, we have a call to action focusing on Congressman Randy Hultgren. Read on for more.

On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) is expected to vote on the Illinois Home Services Program (HSP) overtime proposed rule at 10:30 am in Room C-1 of the Stratton building (Springfield). For more than a year now, disability advocates and worker advocates have been trying to communicate with the State about why it is important to build as much flexibility as possible in HSP, so that people with disabilities do not risk being institutionalized. While the current proposed rule is an improvement over the original, having raised the worker weekly hours cap from 40 to 45, and building in pre-approvals for overtime for some people for one year to be renewed annually, disability advocates still have significant unanswered questions.

We do not, for example, see clear guidance on how HSP customers can find workers when emergencies occur and neither the main worker nor the backup worker are available. We also are unclear as to how the State will determine who is medically complex for overtime pre-approval, when in reality diagnosis is not a good descriptor for function. Someone could be an amputee, for example, and have a very high level of functional need, but they may not be considered medically complex. Furthermore, while the State has said they are increasing the number of HSP workers, the reality is that turnover continues to be high and in Chicago at least we are seeing fewer new workers coming in for training.
Thus, we hope that JCAR will either oppose the proposed rule or delay the vote in order to get answers to these and other questions.

Something you can do to help is to take action using this link to send a message to members of JCAR. If you did it before, please do it again so they know this matters to you.

Also on Wednesday, the Governor of Illinois will deliver his budget speech for Fiscal Year 2018 at 12 noon. If you will recall, we still have no budget for the second half of Fiscal Year 2017, so this means that going forward the Governor and our legislators will be working to find an answer for finishing out FY 2017 and making FY 2018 happen. It will not be easy. Access Living and our colleagues with the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living will be on site on Wednesday to follow both JCAR and budget developments.

Last, Access Living this week is participating in online actions around the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare). Remember, the ACA has provided a lot of people with disabilities with health insurance and healthcare protections that were not previously available. Each day this week, we and other groups will be focusing on specific members of Congress who need to hear from Illinoisans. Today's member of Congress is Congressman Randy Hultgren. See below my signature for the action alert.

Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living

5 Days, 5 Representatives

Each day this week, one Illinois Representative will hear from you. Focusing your advocacy on one Representative along with thousands of your fellow Illinoisans will send a strong message that each Representative Must. Take. Seriously.

Thanks for joining the fight to save the ACA in Illinois! Today we introduce our week of action, a unified effort to "Flip 5" House Representatives. The ACA has given healthcare to millions of people in our state and created 114,000 jobs.

Day 1

Randy Hultgren - (R) - IL 14

Since joining the House of Representatives in 2011, Illinois Representative for the 14th District, Randy Hultgren has voted more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to weaken its benefits for Americans.

It is no mystery why Representative Hultgren is opposed to the Affordable Care Act, in his latest reelection bid, he received $296,940 from the Pharmaceutical and Health Product Industry and another $105,350 from the Insurance Industry. Compare that to his opponent who didn't raise a dime from the Insurance Industry or Pharmaceuticals.

After Congress passed the budget measure in January which began the process for repealing the ACA, Representative Hultgren said, "I do not believe in simply repealing the ACA and walking away. If repeal is to happen, I will work with my colleagues to replace the law gradually over time." But Representative Hultgren and his colleagues have not given details or even begun to agree on how to replace the ACA.

Representative Hultgren needs to hear from Illinoisans that we demand he shift his thinking to improvement and away from replacement.

Here is your ACA advocacy kit

Contact info:
DC Office - (202) 225-2976
District office - 630-584-2734 (To leave a message press 1-0)

Email: hultgren.house.gov/contact

Twitter - @repHultgren
Facebook - @repHultgren / @RandyHultgren (Campaign)

Hultgren Phone/Email Script

If you are a constituent of Representative Hultgren's, make that clear.

I'm ________, emailing / calling to demand Representative Hultgren take a more sensible approach to improving the healthcare of Illinoisans. I demand he shifts his thinking in a much more effective direction: improvement of the law. The law is not perfect, but repeal of the law would be like pulling the rug from under us. I expect the Congressman to be brave just as Governor Rauner has, in denouncing the repeal of the ACA.

Please be sure the Congressman understands I support the Affordable Care Act and only want to see it improved upon.

Thank you.

[Hang Up]

When we focus our calls on a single representative for an entire day, our power cannot be ignored.

Use the hashtag #ILsaveACA when posting on social media (including Facebook), and use the photos and images included in this and forthcoming emails to make your message go further - including images in posts gets them more views!

Click here to put your name down as an advocate to Save the ACA!

We have chosen this week for our action because it is the week of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. This week we will send a message to "The Party of Lincoln," tell them to stand firm with their constituents by supporting and strengthening the ACA.

#ILsaveACA is a chance to coordinate your advocacy with thousands of Illinoisans. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would mean cuts to Medicaid, ending protection for people with pre-existing conditions, and reinstating lifetime insurance caps. Your voice, added to the growing chorus, will send a strong message to Illinois' Republican representatives and will go a long way toward saving our health care!

"Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm." - Abraham Lincoln