SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Aug. 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- 3,000 or more seniors and persons with disabilities will be forced to leave their current residence and seek housing and services elsewhere should the Administration's proposed budget cuts take place. The Affordable Assisted Living Coalition (AALC) and Caremerge are urging the Governor and lawmakers to stop cuts to the highly successful Supportive Living Program (affordable assisted living). With more than 2.2 million seniors currently living in the state, and a projection of 3.6 million by 2030, cutting services will prove detrimental both now and in the future.
As proposed, cuts in the form of an increase in the functional screen used to qualify for Medicaid eligibility (called the DON (Determination of Need) Score) coupled with a rate cut will force nearly 3,000 seniors and persons with disabilities out of Supportive Living in Illinois and into costlier restrictive settings or onto the streets.
"We understand the severity of the budget crisis, but to close the budget gap at the expense of seniors and persons with disabilities is not only wrong, but will actually further deepen the budget crisis by forcing residents into homelessness or premature institutionalization," said Wayne Smallwood, Executive Director of the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition. "Today, the Illinois Supportive Living model saves the state millions of dollars annually. Pushing the proposed cuts through is actually counterproductive to the state's goal of greater utilization of Home and Community-Based Services Programs."
Additionally, the Administration's proposed DON score increase from 29 to 37 will have an immediate negative effect on approximately 47 percent of the current 6,000 Medicaid residents living in Supportive Living communities by moving them to another setting that has no Medicaid support, and many potential residents will be turned away.
Currently, Supportive Living operators are being paid Medicaid rates that are 49 percent of institutional settings. Raising the DON score along with the rate cut could deliver a double blow to Supportive Living communities across the state. Additionally, the proposed cuts would reduce federal matching funds at a time when the state should be trying to leverage federal resources by maximizing Medicaid matching funds.
"Our work within the senior community opened our eyes and hearts to the richness of the human experience," said Carol Zindler, Vice President of Client Experience for Caremerge. "That experience should be cherished and treated with dignity; with that in mind we proudly stand alongside AALC and support their mission to fight the DON score increase. Everyone deserves to live their best life, gaining access to care is one of the primary tenets."
With 10,000 new seniors daily and an expected spike in "elder orphans" in the next 5-10 years, there will be more seniors in need of support, not less. As it stands now, the average length of stay for a Supportive Living resident is two years, three months, which works out to about a $60,000 per person SAVINGS. The Supportive Living Program prevents people of low income, who require more than home services, from pre-maturely moving into an institutional setting. This in turn helps to reduce Illinois' Medicaid spending. The SL option among the constellation of services available to seniors and the disabled is an important model for cost avoidance.
"Turning our back on the SL program will end up costing the State far more money than it expects to save, further impacting Illinois' financial crisis…not to mention the lives of our senior and disabled populations," stated Smallwood.
Administered through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Illinois' Supportive Living Program is considered one of the best affordable assisted living programs in the nation. Since 1999, the Supportive Living model has provided senior citizens and disabled individuals throughout Illinois with a sensible, cost-effective solution for affordable, residential living and support services.
More information about the AALC and Supportive Living is available online at www.aalconline.org.
The Affordable Assisted Living Coalition (AALC) is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit membership organization made up of individuals and entities that develop and/or operate affordable assisted living projects in the State of Illinois' Supportive Living Program (SLP).
Caremerge forges meaningful connections between providers, payers, families and seniors seeking to improve communication in today's complex healthcare environment. With a revolutionary, easy-to-use cloud-based coordination platform, Caremerge keeps the entire care team informed and cohesive through an intuitive interface that enables real-time staff interaction, provides families with peace of mind and improves overall senior wellness.