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Senate Democrats lead in protecting seniors, people with disabilities (AUDIO)

biss don 81815Seniors struggling to stay in their homes and people with disabilities in need of vital care would still have access to services under a plan passed by the Senate today. Without today’s action, substantial and detrimental changes to state-provided care proposed by the governor would force tens of thousands of older adults and adults with disabilities out of their homes and into costly nursing home facilities.

“The governor is cutting much more than hypothetical dollars from the budget with his plan,” said State Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston). “He is cutting a lifeline for thousands of seniors and disabled Illinoisans who often rely on minimal and inexpensive services to ensure their basic health and safety.”

Senator Biss passed House Bill 2482 out of the Senate today that maintains care for thousands of Illinoisans as well as creates safeguards for service recipients allowing for a gradual transition if eligibility requirements change in the future.

To determine service eligibility for certain programs, such as home health assistance, state agencies use a Determination of Need (DON) score. This numerical tool is designed to assess the level and type of need in order to provide the best and most efficient care to older adults and persons with disabilities.

The governor has proposed raising the threshold Illinoisans would need in order to receive care. With these changes in place, the minimum score to qualify for assistance would increase from 29 to 37. Those with scores between 29 and 37 would lose the services they currently rely on to get from one day to the next.

“If the governor’s plan is implemented and my services are cut, I would not be able to stay in my home,” said Ray Miller, a retired Chicago resident who relies on the Community Care Program. “All I require is four hours of care a week to help me cook, clean and do laundry. That’s it. Unfortunately, I feel our governor does not understand how important this care is for my health and livelihood.”

Click below to hear Senator Biss' floor remarks: