Nearly yearlong budget impasse means providers aren’t paid
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?”