AARP IL Urges Dept. on Aging to Halt Proposed Senior Care Rule Changes

Friday, March 10, 2017 Senior Health News
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., March 9, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP Illinois today urged the Illinois Department on Aging to

suspend a proposed, controversial senior care program that negatively impacts critical in-home and community care services for 36,000 nursing home eligible Illinois seniors, their loved ones and family caregivers. The
Governor's budget address proposes a $120 million cut to home and community-based services.

The Department has proposed the creation of a new $260 million government program, the Community Reinvestment Program (CRP), with proposed rules besieged with alarming loopholes jeopardizing senior safety and their ability to live with independence in their home and community. The creation of CRP is systematically bypassing the General Assembly and is expected to be heard before the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). The diversion of the legislative process denies affected seniors and their loved ones true legislative representation in the review, debate, and vote on this senior government initiative.

"The proposed program is a catalyst for seniors to face premature nursing home placement," Ryan Gruenenfelder, AARP Illinois Director of Advocacy said. "The Community Reinvestment Program is a short-sighted budget cutting, political tactic at the expense of 36,000 of Illinois' most vulnerable senior citizens, and their loved ones. The proposed program hinges on service availability by geographic regions, on the continuation of budget appropriations, and the sole authority of the Department to amend eligibility standards with zero legislative oversight." 

CRP eligibility requirements are subject to adequate funding, services/supports and/or vendors. The program sanctions the Department full authority to implement program cuts at any time without a requirement for appropriate review by policy makers. The program is restrictive and places an undue hardship on affected seniors and their families as services will be undependable and endanger the continuity of services.

"Our parents and grandparents have worked hard, played by the rules and supported our families and communities. Now they need our help to stay in their homes and active. It's wrong to change the rules and cut off their supports when they need us the most," said State Rep. Greg Harris, D- Chicago, chair of the House Appropriations Human Services Committee.

"Senior care is one of our most critical priorities in Springfield, and this proposal raises serious concerns that we have started to uncover today," said State Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, chair of the House Aging Committee. "The testimony clearly underscores the need to work through these proposed Community Care Program and Community Reinvestment Program rule changes very carefully, and to work toward a state budget that protects and prioritizes how we care for our seniors."

"The lack of safety standards and criminal background checks for local providers in the proposed rules for the Community Reinvestment Program put our older adults at serious risk for harm," said Cindy Cunningham, President of the Illinois Adult Day Services Association. "There are other ways to offset costs in the Community Care Program that do not jeopardize the people we are seeking to help."

"Under our current program, a senior has maintained in-home services throughout our budget crisis because of a consent decrease during recent budget turmoil," Gruenenfelder added. "CRP will not save the state money, as in-home care is at least three times less expensive than Medicaid nursing home placement. The proposed program will drive more seniors into nursing homes when CRP services abruptly stop due to political budget impasses, limited senior providers in rural areas, or when the Department implements new eligibility standards further limiting service availability. CRP is not only bad for vulnerable seniors, it will become a long-term, financial burden on all Illinois taxpayers."

AARP Illinois urged the Department on Aging, on behalf of its 1.7 million members in the state, to halt the Community Reinvestment Program rules and its creation with limited statewide representation under JCAR. AARP supports open dialogue with all parties and the discussion of common-sense CCP reforms that offer cost savings and sustainability of the program for years to come.

Gruenenfelder stated, "Our state can implement common sense, compassionate and cost-effective reforms to maintain our state's current Community Care Program without jeopardizing the lives and well-being of thousands of Illinois' greatest generation."


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