The Arc Illinois Executive Director Meg Cooch, Ligas Family Advocate Missy Kichline, and her daughter Sam Kichline presented at a press conference with Senator Dick Durbin on the Better Care Reconciliation Act. They highlighted the opportunities Sam has in the community because of Medicaid.
The Illinois General Assembly approved a state budget over the veto from Governor Bruce Rauner. The budget includes a $0.75 per hour increase in DSP wages, which currently start at $9.35 per hour. This is a modest victory for The Arc Illinois and the They Deserve More campaign, which have been pushing for a minimum DSP wage of $15/hour. The was the first DSP wage increase in eight years.
Meg Cooch, Executive Director of The Arc Illinois, and Kimberly Johnson-Evans, mom and Ligas Family Advocate, testified at a House Human Services Appropriations hearing on the FY18 Department of Human Services budget. They stressed the need to rebalance funding to focus on home and community-based services, the need for a wage increase for DSPs, and the funding of grant programs including Life Span, The Autism Program, and Best Buddies.
The Chicago Tribune published a two-part series (part 1, part 2) about the troubling conditions inside Illinois group homes and the lack of proper oversight by the state, portraying the conditions as a natural result of deinstitutionalization. In response, Executive Director Tony Paulauski and Board President Terri Devine each wrote letters to the editor expressing the importance of community living and calling on legislators to reform the system and fund a living wage for direct support professionals. Paulauski wrote: “‘Suffering in Secret'” has identified serious problems, but it also should remind Rauner and legislators that Illinois can no longer continue to fund an obsolete institutional system at the expense of community services. It is time to close six of the seven fully operational state institutions in Illinois. It is time to invest those resources into home- and community-based services. It is time for Illinois to step up and transform the disability system here in Illinois like Indiana and 14 other states that have closed those obsolete state institutions.”
The Illinois House of Representatives failed to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of HB 5931 by a vote of 64-42. The bill would have increased wages of direct support professionals (DSPs) to $15 per hour and would have provided an increase in reimbursement to cover the cost for providers. The Arc of Illinois remains committed to securing fair wages for DSPs.
The Arc of Illinois supported and Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 420 on August 26. This bill allows the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to exempt certain wheelchair parts from the prior approval process and to set reimbursement rates of wheelchairs, wheelchair parts and accessories, and relating seating and positioning items at levels that ensure the availability of these devices. Additionally, it requires durable medical equipment providers to be accredited within 15 months of passage of the legislation.
The Arc of Illinois strongly opposed SB 2610, signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on August 25. This bill creates a new license for providers who operate Community Integrated Living Arrangements, campus group homes, skilled nursing facilities, and employment and training opportunities positioned at a central geographic campus. Providers with this license will be allowed to transfer individuals from integrated settings to segregated ones at their discretion. The Arc of Illinois opposed this bill given that it is not compliant with the federal Home and Community Based Settings rule and runs counter to the goal of community integration.
The Arc of Illinois supported and Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB 6213. This bill requires more frequent updates of managed care directories, clearer information about covered prescriptions, and a mechanism for reporting inaccurate information in said directories in order to give consumers timely and meaningful information and choice. They include accessible online tools.
The Arc of Illinois advocated for the passage of HB 581, the Social Services Contract Notice Act, which requires state agencies to provide 30 days’ notice to social service providers prior to reducing, eliminating, or suspending services. Additionally, it requires 120 days’ advance notice to the General Assembly so that they have the opportunity to address harm that may be caused as a result of such actions. Governor Bruce Rauner recently issued an amendatory veto proposing changes that restrict the scope of the bill to only four departments that handle social services, limiting its applicability to reductions, eliminations, or suspensions resulting from lapse in funding, and reducing the notice period for the General Assembly to 30 days.
The Arc of Illinois Supported and Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 3106. The law previously allowed courts to admit testimony by alleged victims of sexual assault with moderate, severe, or profound intellectual disability not made in the presence of the accused. The bill expands the law to additionally allow such testimony by people with mild intellectual disability, developmental disabilities, or cognitive impairments.