ALTON — Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed a major eligibility change to the Illinois Community Care Program, a program that helps to keep older Illinoisans in their homes and out of institutions.
Rauner has proposed raising the minimum determination of need score for the program – a score which determines eligibility and service levels for the program. The score determines the extent of an applicant’s need for services. Historically, individuals with a score of 29 or above were eligible for the program. Rauner has proposed changing that score from 29 to 37, which will eliminate Community Care Program services for more than 24,000 Illinoisans. These individuals would be at risk of premature nursing placement – at three times the cost to Illinois taxpayers – if Rauner's proposal takes effect.
Senior Services Plus, 2603 N. Rodgers Ave., will invite testimony at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 9, from individuals and organizations who will be affected by the proposed change. Testimony will be from representatives of Addus Adult Day Services, Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, St. John’s Adult Day Service and Southwestern Illinois Visiting Nurses Association.
SSP executive, client testify at Capitol
Senior Services Plus Associate Executive Director Theresa Collins and recipient of the agency’s in-home services Kathleen Andrews traveled to Springfield on June 30. They were motivated to provide testimony in front of the Illinois House of Representatives about the effects of having no budget or reduced budget for fiscal year 2016 in the Community Care Program.
Collins, who also is the vice president for the Illinois Association of Community Care Program, provided opening remarks on behalf of Senior Services Plus and the devastating effects having no budget or a reduced budget in the Community Care Program would have on the agency.
“As the budget uncertainty continues, providers of the Community Care Program will try to continue to provide services to the clients until there are no longer funds available,” she said. “The Department on Aging has indicated to some that we need to continue to provide services through the budget impasse and that we will be paid retroactively from July 1 once a budget is in place, but we know that depends on what budget is passed, what money is available and the administration’s willingness to spend that money.”
Aside from opening remarks, Collins spoke about the severity of the entire state of Illinois budget situation and that changes need to be made.
“This cannot be done on the backs of the state’s most vulnerable citizens,” she said. “Do we truly want to be responsible for co-signing death certificates?”
Following Collins, home care recipient Kathleen Andrews took to the podium to speak about the potential effects and the successes the program has had on her life since 2002. Andrews, 80, lives independently in her home in Granite City. Andrews worked for more than 15 years as a licensed practical nurse at nursing home facilities and hospitals primarily dealing with senior citizens.
“I don’t know what I would do without the care and help from my home care aide,” she testified. “She helps me with bathing, preparing my food, and taking me to my doctor’s appointments.”
Currently, Andrews determination of needs score is 34 and she receives three days (two hours per day) a week of service. With the proposed changes to the determination of needs score, Andrews would no longer qualify for th program and would be left to enter a nursing home or struggle to maintain an independent lifestyle in her home with no assistance.
As an agency, Senior Services Plus stands firm in the belief that if a budget is not put in place soon, senior citizens living throughout the state of Illinois will suffer and be forced into life-threatening situations. The agency is encouraging legislators and the governor to come to a resolution with the budget in a manner that avoids these conditions.
For information, call (618) 465-3298, ext. 100, or visit www.seniorservicesplus.org.