There are major developments to report regarding the continuously-evolving state budget situation, especially as it pertains to home and community-based services for people with disabilities. Late Tuesday, the Governor’s office announced that it would seek to raise the Determination of Need (DON) score for the Community Care Program and “file emergency rules to enact means testing to (the) Program. No income limit currently exists.” These actions represent a change in eligibility that will possibly lead to cuts and reduction in service for tens of thousands of seniors depending on this program to live outside of costly institutional settings. The impact of this change could be felt beyond this program, however. Besides the unacceptable loss of services and supports seniors depend on to live in the community, the impact could also be felt by those in the Home Services Program, which provides in-home attendant services for people with disabilities 59 and younger. Advocates from across the state are working to see if this is indeed the case, but the Rauner Administration has not been forthcoming with details.
These cuts are being proposed at a time when Governor Rauner seems less and less willing to engage with the people whose lives will be endangered by his budget plans, the taxpayers who fund them, and even the General Assembly we all have elected as our primary voice in these matters. The same General Assembly that passed, in both Houses, resolutions opposing this very change to the DON score. That happened, in large part, because of the action taken by so many of you reading this to contact your lawmakers and ask them to do so. The Governor continues to ignore our voices and is even taking steps to prohibit the state agency heads implementing the programs we care about from speaking about these cuts!
As the state legislative session extends past its scheduled adjournment into the summer, the Governor needs to know that shutting out advocates and the people most hurt by his cuts isn’t a helpful way to negotiate. Please contact his office directly at (217) 782-0244 and tell him that raising the DON score is not an acceptable budget solution because lives are in the balance.Also, tell him to direct his agency heads to re-open communication with the communities most impacted by these harmful cuts.
Thanks for all you do, Adam Ballard Advocacy Manager, Access Living