As Home Care Funding Crisis Continues, Seniors Join Faith Leaders to Call On Lawmakers to Pass Emergency Funding

(April 11, 2013, Springfield, IL) — Seniors, faith leaders, ministers, and community advocates staged a major rally and prayer circle on the 3rd floor of the State Capitol to call on state lawmakers to pass emergency funding to save Illinois’ home care assistance program. Seniors then lobbied state representatives and senators about the need to take immediate action to avoid the collapse of the Community Care Program (CCP).

The rally and lobby day received extraordinary TV and online press coverage.

Watch Springfield WCIA CBS 3:

Watch Springfield WICS ABC CH 20:

In addition, Illinois Issues blog reported on the senior lobby day:

Helping senior citizens remain in their homes is preferable for the state from a financial standpoint, since the Department of Aging estimates the costs would be as much as four times higher to pay for an individual placed in round-the-clock care in a nursing home.

The Department of Aging estimates 96 percent of the money it receives from the General Revenue Fund goes to the program. The department says the program was underfunded last fiscal year, as well. Part of the reason why the program is facing a shortfall is because it had to use some of the money it received this year to cover last year’s costs.

Jacquie Algee, executive director of relations for Service Employees International Union health care, said smaller providers that primarily rely on the state for their operations are most at-risk if the additional funding is not found. “It’s been a problem because it happens every year,” she said. The Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers estimates that one-third of its members depend heavily on funding from the Department of Aging and would not be able to continue operations for more than 30 days without it.

On March 15th, the Department on Aging released a letter to notify all home care agencies and providers that the Community Care Program completely ran out of money. The state program funds home care for 80,000 seniors and allows them to live in their own homes instead of being forced into costly nursing home facilities. In addition to protecting the dignity, privacy and security of seniors, home care assistance also saves the state hundreds of millions by avoiding costly institutional care.

The Community Care Program through the Department on Aging serves seniors and faces a total shortfall of $313 million; $173 million in previous liability from FY12, and $140 million operating deficit in FY13.