Elderly and Disabled Care
It has been a bit of an uphill battle in the Illinois State Senate, but Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration finally announced that it is officially dropping its opposition to open care for the elderly and disabled. Previously, Governor Rauner had plans to limit which elderly and disabled Illinois residents could receive state-subsidized medical and other services.
Currently, the state of Illinois employs the Determination of Need score to assess a resident’s eligibility for subsidized care. The Determination of Need score takes things into account like help needed to perform daily tasks, with a greater need reflected by a higher score. The current minimum is a score of 29, but Rauner planned on raising the eligibility score to 37, which would have cut care to more than 34,000 Illinoisans.
Elderly and disabled care went to the chopping block as a part of the governor’s efforts to slash the state budget. In his cuts proposed earlier this year, $400 million was earmarked for the Illinois Department of Aging, targeting at-home and nursing home care. In July, rallies were held throughout the state, especially in Chicago, led by the SEIU and the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans. In the crowds were elderly people, family members, and healthcare workers – many of whom would stand to lose their jobs.
The state is still in the midst of a financial impasse and it is being felt throughout Illinois. Lottery winners have famously not been paid in several months, with many of them currently suing the state of Illinois. Although the House approved to begin payouts, House Speaker Mike Madigan refused to send the bill to Senate. Why is this bill important? It contains an earmark for snow-melting road salt, which is not being held up in the state government. Many suburban and downstate towns have not been able to properly prepare for this winter for the last 4 ½ months, while the budget stalemate rages on.
To help get this budget passed, democratic Representative Ken Dunkin cut a deal with Governor Rauner to remove cuts to services for senior citizens and childcare for the working poor, effectively costing Speaker Madigan his supermajority. This can end up costing Representative Dunkin his position in the government, as there is already a candidate running against him for the democrat seat in the next primary election. Not many are taking kindly to a democratic representative working with the governor on his own. In the end, however, it seems that some of the cuts to the elderly community are off the table.