SPRINGFIELD, Ill., April 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Governor Rauner's budget plans threatening thousands of older Illinoisans, AARP and provider agencies joined today with state legislators to speak out against the proposed $140 million cut to Illinois' Community Care Program (CCP), a program that helps keep older adults in their homes and out of costly institutions. Should the budget cut be approved, eliminating crucial services currently provided to older residents, Illinois' economy will be harshly impacted.
"AARP is strongly opposed to Governor Rauner's plan to cut funding for the Illinois Community Care Program," said Ryan Gruenenfelder, AARP Illinois Manager of Advocacy & Outreach. "Fully funding CCP is a fiscally responsible budget plan that will save the state millions in unneeded Medicaid nursing home costs. The draconian cuts to this program that have been proposed by Governor Rauner are simply irresponsible."
CCP provides critical, in-home services, allowing older residents the option to stay at home and age independently and with dignity, while simultaneously saving millions of taxpayer dollars. If the CCP budget cuts are approved, many older Illinoisans may be forced into nursing homes – at triple the cost to Illinois taxpayers. Family members of CCP clients could also face tough choices, including the decision about whether to cut back their own work hours or stop working altogether just to care for their loved ones.
"Trying to balance the State of Illinois budget by cutting services and care to senior citizens, forcing them out of their homes and into nursing homes is wrong," said State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "It will only harm seniors and will end up costing the taxpayers of Illinois dramatically more."
"Our state is facing significant budget challenges, but jeopardizing the health and safety of some of Illinois' most vulnerable seniors is not the answer to our problems," said State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz. "The proposed changes to the Community Care Program will increase costs to the state and could leave thousands of seniors without the basic services they need to avoid premature nursing home admission."
"Without the Community Care Program, seniors will lose the ability to maintain their homes and health. The Community Care Program makes a life with choice and dignity possible," said Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy for Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago. "Kicking away homemaker supports will make it impossible for those on a fixed income to live independently. Those who rent will be at risk of eviction if their homes are not kept clean. The people with the lowest need in the Community Care Program are the least likely to ask for help, and the most likely to die due to service disruption. Making it harder to get into the Community Care Program will cost Illinois millions of dollars in increased hospitalizations and lost labor ."
"What we know is 38% more older adults may not qualify for services, which is 4 out of 10 in addition to those already denied during the assessment process," said Marsha Nelson, Community Service Unit Director for the Shawnee Alliance for Seniors. "This will result in frequent emergency room visits, multiple hospital re-admission and premature long term institutional placement, at a much higher cost to the tax payers of Illinois."
"My sister has worked hard her entire life. She never asked for much, but needs brought about by her disability vastly outweigh her income," said Ida Jackson, a Springfield resident and caregiver. "Community Care provides her with adult day services two days a week, which she loves. It gives her an opportunity to meet other seniors and helps her get the physical therapy she needs. We know that the state if facing difficult decisions, but to balance the budget on the backs of people who have worked so hard and ask for so little is unthinkable."
CCP offers quality care and services to Illinois' most vulnerable residents and cutting the program hurts everybody involved. AARP and CCP providers are joining efforts to urge legislators to protect and restore full funding for CCP. AARP has set up a website – savecommunitycare.org. – and a toll-free number, 1-844-226-1190, for citizens to contact their State Representatives.
SOURCE AARP Illinois