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A bill sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that would  put the brakes on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to take home care services away from Illinois’ aging population was approved by the state Senate today.

Biss, chairman of the Senate’s Human Services Committee, sponsored legislation in response to the Rauner administration’s proposed cuts to the state’s Community Care Program.

The measure, House Bill 4351, would protect elderly residents who qualify to receive health care services in their homes through the program, rather than requiring them to move into more expensive nursing home settings, as Rauner has suggested.

“The Community Care Program enables the state to provide humane care to senior citizens while also saving money by keeping people out of nursing homes,” Biss said.

“I stand ready to work with all stakeholders to deliver these services in a more cost-effective, client-centered and efficient way. But I have serious concerns about Gov. Rauner’s proposal.”

The Rauner administration has proposed massive cuts to the Community Care Program, which provides homecare services to thousands of senior citizens.

The governor’s plan is to establish a new program called the Community Reinvestment Program, which would offer a “modified package of services” to about 43,000 non-Medicaid eligible seniors, who currently make up about 40 percent of the Community Care Program’s clients.

By removing the non-Medicaid population from the program – and thus forcing them to receive care in costly nursing homes – Rauner claims the state will save $197 million, derived from forcing seniors to rely on family and community resources for assistance.

However, the administration has not released a detailed explanation of how this transition would work.

Without such a plan, Biss said, this change could be devastating to thousands of Illinois families who barely get by and rely on the Community Care Program to help their loved ones receive care at home.

“Unfortunately, Gov. Rauner has chosen a blunt and ill-conceived approach to creating savings on paper. If we go forward with his proposal, tens of thousands of seniors would be at risk of losing services they have come to depend upon,” Biss said. “What he is proposing would be both cruel and fiscally unwise for the state.”

Under House Bill 4351, individuals with a Determination of Need – or DON – score of 29 or higher would remain eligible for services for at least one year should the Rauner administration reduce the eligibility threshold.

Further, the legislation would prevent nursing home residents under the program from being involuntarily discharged without a transition plan.

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5 Comments

  1. Senior Care
    When Gov. Rauner gets old, he’ll have his huge government pension, and wouldn’t even have to worry about nursing homes, doctor bills, etc…..how selfish of him to want to make these changes. Why would anyone want or prefer to live in a nursing home, when their own environment is where they feel comfortable, and can have all of their belongings with them…not to mention making their own meals, etc. Thank you Senator Biss for understanding the human and rational side of issues.

  2. Biss’s Comments

    Biss's comments about the govenor's plan seems to be "cruel and ill-conceived". The story appears to indicate that information about the plan is not completely known and Biss does not have complete knowledge of how the change would work.

    What it not be better for Biss to meet with Rauner and talk about how how to improve the the plan to save the state money without hurting the the seniors. Maybe Madigan and Cullerton will not allow Biss to meet.

    What is wrong with Biss. Just a year or so ago he had such a promising political carrier ahead of him. I never thought he would be taking orders for the state's biggest problems, Madigan and, to a lesser extent, Cullerton.

  3. Nursing Home Profits
    Rauner is only going to continue to hurt cash-strapped Illinois residents. He may be able to cut these programs, but residents will end up paying for it in the end. With the burgeoning elderly population that is already requiring assistance and even more on the horizon, many people don’t know what they are in for. My family cares for an elderly dementia-addled parent in our home and the costs associated with it are staggering. Even with those staggering costs, the cost of an “inexpensive” care facility is A LOT more. They start at $6K per month and go up from there. Many of our elderly population did not plan for the reality of such high costs and this leaves the family to bear the brunt of the caregiving cost. Our alternative to our current in-home care situation is to apply for Medicaid and stick our family member into one of the Medicaid available beds. In these places, our loved ones do not receive the high-standard of care they are getting in our home. The cost of a part-time in-home caregiver is one half the cost of a nursing facility. Of course, in-home care has been what we’ve done for 3+ years now and it requires someone always to be home when the caregiver isn’t working. Kind of like house-arrest…. Our situation is a portent of things to come for many of us with elderly family members… especially in view of the escalation in Alzheimer and dementia trends.

    Governor Rauner may no longer be associated with GTCR which made quite a bit investing in nursing homes, but I’m sure the knowledge of that venture is at the forefront in this effort to push the elderly into what is quite obviously more expensive “care.” The difference in financial cost is something anyone with an elder-care situation knows.

    Incidentally, I realize there are many very qualified nursing homes out there. The Medicaid laden long-term nursing facilities tend to be understaffed which results in residents sitting in soiled undergarments for hours at a time. This is not to insult any of the staff in these facilities who tend to be very good at what they do. Unfortunately, they are far too often over-burdened with daily patient counts that are far above what is legal in our state. A long-time nurse we know has asked rhetorically, “How can we be expected to give 32 patients all of their medications which are due at 7AM?” “How can we know what is going on with all of those patients when we are almost always the only nurse on the floor with only one CNA to assist?” With such knowledge, we have chosen the difficult path… to care for our family member in our home at one half the financial cost, but a much higher emotional cost which takes a toll as time moves on. Either way, residents will be paying… out of our own pocket, or through a massive increase in Medicaid applications.

    1. Madigan and Cullerton

       

      I understand that Biss did not try to discuss this with the Governor or his staff. He just went on his way to keep the same failed ways that the state has practiced for years. I am sure that his status quo proposal could not be presented without the OK from Cullerton (and Madigan). Never trying to improve the current system for senior care.

      The real problem(s) are Madigan and Cullerton. They need to be removed from power from their respective branches of the legislature. Nothing in this state will work for the people until these men are gone.

  4. Shocking

    And in other shocking news, Illinois politicians are bankrupting the state and refusing to make any meaningful changes to fiscal outlays, inevitably leading to financial ruin.

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