Nearly year­long bud­get im­passe means providers aren’t paid

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS -

CYN­THIA CUN­NING­HAM KNOWS MANY ILLI­NOIS SE­NIORS ARE STRUG­GLING, but re­sources are so lack­ing that it’s dif­fi­cult to even keep track of the dan­ger.

“Th­ese peo­ple aren’t get­ting ser­vices at all. And be­cause there isn’t a provider, we re­ally don’t know how they’re do­ing,” said Cun­ning­ham, pres­i­dent of the Illi­nois Adult Day Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion.

Hos­pi­tals have elim­i­nated staff and cut be­hav­ioral health ser­vices while smaller or­ga­ni­za­tions are clos­ing or are be­ing sold. More older peo­ple are be­ing forced into nurs­ing homes. A se­nior can be cared for while re­main­ing in the com­mu­nity for about $800 a month, whereas a nurs­ing home usu­ally costs $3,000 to $5,000 a month.

Although Illi­nois’ for­mer gov­er­nor, Demo­crat Pat Quinn, did ex­pand Med­i­caid, his suc­ces­sor, Repub­li­can Bruce Rauner, is at a stale­mate with the Illi­nois House speaker and has not passed a bud­get for the fis­cal year that be­gan in July 2015.

Speaker Michael Madi­gan is in­tent on a tax in­crease that Rauner will not sup­port with­out Demo­cratic con­ces­sions. As both sides refuse to budge, un­paid bills have stacked up, leav­ing some providers with­out pay­ment since June.

Wait­lists con­tinue to in­crease as those

“Th­ese peo­ple aren’t get­ting ser­vices at all. And be­cause there isn’t a provider, we re­ally don’t know how they’re do­ing.” CYN­THIA CUN­NING­HAM

who were re­ceiv­ing ser­vices see them cut or elim­i­nated. About 3,200 se­niors have lost home-de­liv­ered meals. Nearly 47,000 peo­ple have been de­nied sub­stance abuse treat­ment and pre­ven­tion ser­vices or seen those ser­vices pulled back. About 25,000 se­niors could lose home health ser­vices.

A pro­gram that helps HIV-pos­i­tive women de­liver HIV-neg­a­tive ba­bies is set to close in Oc­to­ber. The nearly 30 pro­grams for vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault have all made staff cut­backs.

Court in­ter­ven­tion has got­ten Med­i­caid pay­ments to a few providers. But many closed pro­grams de­pended on other state funds.

Tr­ish Ri­ley, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the non­par­ti­san Na­tional Academy for State Health Pol­icy, said the most vul­ner­a­ble, low-in­come res­i­dents are the ones hard­est hit.

“And I think that’s a big part of the de­bate: How do you pro­tect the vul­ner­a­ble while bal­anc­ing a bud­get?”

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