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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Illinois Hearing on benefit cuts to developmentally disabled citizens - Oct. 20 in Springfield

A decision by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration to reduce monthly allowances for developmentally disabled residents will be under a microscope next week during a special hearing in Springfield.

article by Kurt Erickson The Southern Springfield Bureau | Oct 14, 2015
On Tuesday, advocates will argue against the reduction, which will save a total of $3 million, but will leave an estimated 16,000 disabled people with less spending money.

At issue is an allowance that is given to residents in larger, intermediate care facilities and group homes. Under former Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, the amount had been increased for the first time in two decades to $60 per month.

The Rauner administration, however, says the increase wasn't specifically renewed, meaning the allowance returned to its previous level of $30 for individuals living in care facilities and $50 for those in group homes when the budget year ended June 30.

"Last year, the personal needs allowance was increased by the General Assembly for only the upcoming fiscal year... and this increase already expired on June 30 this year. The hearing is related to implementing formal rules to reflect this," said John Hoffman, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Supporters of the increase say the Rauner administration's interpretation of the rule is incorrect. A rule put in place in March established the dollar amount at the higher level and did not include an expiration date, they argue.

But, efforts to convince state officials to reverse the decision haven't been successful, leaving the disabled with less money to spend on snacks, toiletries and entertainment.

"I don't think there's been any movement," said Ed McManus, a Chicago-area disability consultant.

Josh Evans of the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities agreed.

"I see no evidence that the administration is going to take a different approach on this," Evans said. "We think they are operating in violation of current rules."

Evans said the June 30 reduction came as a surprise after the administration agreed to the new rule in March.

"We were mortified," he said. "They've done an about-face on us."

The hearing is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 20, 2015
 at the
Prescott E. Bloom Building
201 South Grand Avenue, East
Springfield, Illinois 62763

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