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Biss: Rauner’s proposed cuts to senior services cruel, ill-conceived

SeniorAn effort to put the brakes on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to take critical home care services away from Illinois’ aging population passed out of the state Senate on Thursday.

Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), 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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