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Manufactured controversy

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Via the twitters…


Hey, what’s this about? Replacing parents? Huh?

* Read on

Deborah Teixeira is in danger of literally being fired by the state of Illinois from her job as Juliet’s mother. The Peoria resident has been warned that if there are more infractions, the state will send a replacement into her home to take care of her daughter instead.

Teixeira is not alone. Across the state, mothers like her and other people taking care of their family members have been told via threatening official phone calls and letters that they could be replaced if they don’t shape up.

Her predicament comes from the fact that she takes care of an adult daughter with brain damage. She provides Juliet with round-the-clock care at her home thanks to subsidies from Illinois’ Home Services Program.

That’s common: Most of HSP’s estimated 20,000 “caregivers” are just people like Teixeira watching over severely disabled family members.

The program also comes with strings attached, including a new billing system that requires caregivers to call a phone number twice daily to literally clock in and clock out.

Forget to clock out and you are technically overbilling the state. Repeat offenders can be replaced as caregiver — even if they are taking care of their own children in their home.

In other words, she’s getting money from the government so she can take care of her child, and she’s complaining that she has to clock in and out every day. Previously, caregivers just filled out timesheets. But that can be done retroactively, so this is more “real time,” and there was apparently some training involved.

* And what about those “threatening” letters? One was posted online

Dear Customer:

As a Customer of the Home Services Program (HSP), it is your responsibility to manage your individual Provider(s) so you do not go over the number of hours that are authorized on your HSP Service Plan.

Your current Service Plan authorizes [redacted] hours of services per month. However, our records indicate that you have approved [redacted] hours in May 2014.

If, within the next six months. you continue to approve hours that are over the number authorized on your Service Plan without prior approval from your HSP Counselor, the Division of Rehabilitation Services will have to amend your Service Plan to remove your Individual Provider(s) and replace them with a Homemaker Agency. If this occurs, your Counselor will contact you to provide you with the amended Service Plan and notify you of your right to request an appeal.

If you are having difficulty managing your Individual Provider(s), please feel free to contact your Counselor or your local Center for Independent Living (CIL) for assistance.

If you would like to change to a Homemaker Agency. please contact your Counselor to make that change is in your Service Plan. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. If you have any questions, please contact your HSP Counselor or Coordinator.

Sincerely,
Home Services Program

I don’t see a “threatening” tone there. At all.

* So, what’s this really about?

It is the latest example of how the state bureaucracy has created headaches for the caregivers. The [Home Services Program] is also the center of a major Supreme Court case, Harris v. Quinn, set to be decided this month. It involves whether the state can force the caregivers to join a union.

OK, now I get it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


23 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    Sound and fury, signifying nothing.


  2. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    Since these caregivers are now unionized, they can grieve the change in timekeeping policy. They apparently can also file some type of appeal.

    “Harris v. Quinn, set to be decided this month”

    I was reading a bit on Scalia’s thoughts in regards to this case. He seemed to support unions’ rights to collect dues as a business expense for negotiating for better wages and benefits, and that free speech is already circumscribed by the employer, so Pamela Harris’ contention that having to join a union violates free speech is without merit.

    Scalia may have also rendered a previous opinion in another case, supporting unions’ rights to collect dues, and that legal precedent in supporting these rights is clear.

    Scalia could be the swing vote in this case.

    I see that SCOTUS added some decision days, two this week (tomorrow and Thursday). We can get a ruling as early as tomorrow.


  3. - Obamas Puppy - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Liberty means having a license to distort and manipulate headlines for the advancement of eliminating organizations that defend the working men and women of Illinois. How they look at themselves in the mirror and say “you know what the billionaires that pay my salary really care about is me and my family.


  4. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    Would Kristina Rasmussen prefer that the State of Illinois simply give IL tax dollars to the parents of adult disabled children with no strings attached?

    Actually, I wouldn’t be stridently opposed to that.


  5. - Chi - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    It situations like this where I don’t understand the cogency, if there is any, of the right. Under different circumstances (see, e.g., food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc), these same people would decry giving benefits to people without proper checks in place to make sure the government isn’t wasting money (and many would think any money spent in this manner is a waste). But when they themselves are the one on the receiving end of government beneficence, then no hurdle is too small to complain about.

    It also seems like they want the protections of a union, but per Harris v Quinn they don’t want to pay for it.

    Infuriating.


  6. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    A cash grant seems far more efficient for these family caregivers than treating them like hourly employeees.


  7. - Kerfuffle - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    So this parent would pay union dues out of the money given to her by the state for the care of her daughter - which of course results in less money available to actually care for her daughter - makes perfect sense to me.


  8. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    Tempest in a teapot.
    All she would need would be a timer that would beep a few minutes before she is supposed to clock in or out. I think there is some kind of app for that on some smart phones.


  9. - Aldyth - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    Having dealt with some of these parents, please don’t give them a grant with no strings or accountability attached. I know how some of that money or all of it would be spent in some of those households.


  10. - Commander Norton - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:48 am:

    This is a perfect example of the “loyal opposition” operating free from the burden of consistency. One might imagine that Rasmussen and her colleagues would prefer lower taxes so that caregivers like the one in the article might not need to be paid by the government in order to care for their children. One might also imagine, as Bill White and Chi pointed out, that she would favor strict accountability measures on grants of government assistance (see Medicaid eligibility verification).

    But no - she’s upset that there are limits and conditions on government assistance and falsely claims that putting such conditions on state aid is tantamount to threatening to revoke people’s parental rights. No one’s trying to take this woman’s child away from her; they’re just staying that she can either follow the rules or not accept government pay - a concept I’m sure Rasmussen would support when it comes to WIC or TANF or any other social services program.

    Rich is right; this is all about unions.


  11. - Toure's Latte - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    ==…simply give IL tax dollars to the parents of adult disabled children with no strings attached?==

    Then how could the state justify the bureaucracy to track, compile, analyze, summarize, and forward reports on the phone calls? I for one have already applied for the Assistant Administrative Secretary To The Deputy Director Of The Assistant Director To The Director Of At-Home Parental Care For Children With Disabilties (AASEEDDOTADTTDOAHPCFCWD for short). The pay is pretty good but the pension bennies are iffy.

    If parents with disabled children are going to be there 24/7, why do they have to call at all?


  12. - KurtInSpringfield - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    First, while I am in a union and support unionized “employees”, these people are not employees and should not be unionized. They are private in home caregivers receiving a subsidy from the state.

    Second, there should be a distinction between a “live in” caregiver, and someone from an agency that comes and goes on a regular basis. I know from personal experience there is no “clocking in” or “clocking out” when you live with someone who is disabled. Whether it is 3:00 in the afternoon or 3:00 in the morning, if they need assistance, you help.

    Will the state pay for the extra hours if a caregiver is up half the night, and still has to get up and take care of the individual during the day?

    Live in caregivers should not have to clock in and out daily. They should be paid on a daily rather than an hourly basis. The state could design a way for these people to verify their days on a weekly or regular basis. That would make more sense.


  13. - Kerfuffle - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    KurtInSpringfield - very well said!


  14. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:10 pm:

    This also has to do with the difference between family caregivers and community based agencies. The agencies have a broad set of regulations, training, licensures, and certifications with accompanying onsite reviews. They also have to provide billing records for the authorized hours in HBS plans. Families have not been required to do much of that even though conceptually they are in an ‘employee’ status getting paid by the state for services much like the agencies. Many families do a great job. Others, well….thanks for the money. State is moving toward more accountability for their funding. Welcome to the club.


  15. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    Clocking out late is linked to wage theft.

    Punch out at 5:00 pm and work until 6:00 pm or you are fired.

    If Kristina Rasmussen wants to allow immediate family members to receive a stipend with no strings attached, I’m okay with that. Create an exception like was done for the girl cooking cupcakes at home.

    However, for non-family members, they need to be protected from being forced to work 60 hours per week while only being paid for 40 hours per week.


  16. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Must be a slow propaganda day at IPI.


  17. - bigdaddygeo - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    Teixeira should call her shop steward and file a grievance. If she is removed, she should file for unemployment.


  18. - DuPage Dave - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    The Harris case involves the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities and not the Home Services Program operated by the DHS Division of Rehabilitation Services. The same union (SEIU) is involved with both. But the letter referring to the electronic timekeeping system is from Rehab Services.

    The SMART Act on Medicaid reform required Illinois to develop an electronic timekeeping system, so that is coming from the elected representatives of our state, not some bureaucrats.

    Home Services care workers routinely bill for amounts greater than authorized by the care plan, which is now easier to detect with the electronic timekeeping system. The letter is telling all of them (whether they are related to the person receiving care or not) to knock it off.

    If a family member enrolls with DHS as a provider, they are required to follow the same rules as any other provider. Including not billing for more work than you are authorized to provide.

    And no, I don’t see the letter as threatening. Just very plain language about consequences.


  19. - AlabamaShake - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    **The Harris case involves the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities and not the Home Services Program operated by the DHS Division of Rehabilitation Services. The same union (SEIU) is involved with both. **

    Wrong and kind of wrong.

    Harris v Quinn involves BOTH the DORS-HSP program and the DDD-HBSS program. And while SEIU was/is involved in both cases, it was two different locals involved in them.


  20. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    “So this parent would pay union dues out of the money given to her by the state for the care of her daughter - which of course results in less money available to actually care for her daughter - makes perfect sense to me.”

    Didn’t home healthcare workers get raises thanks to the union? I read that they got a raise this year. Other states’ workers also got raises and benefits, thanks to unions.

    http://www.epi.org/blog/harris-quinn-home-care-workers-improve-wages/


  21. - Kerfuffle - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 3:14 pm:

    Grandson of Man - they are not employees, they are private in home caregivers receiving a subsidy from the state.


  22. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 4:21 pm:

    “Grandson of Man - they are not employees, they are private in home caregivers receiving a subsidy from the state.”

    Whatever they are, they got raises and benefits, thanks to unions.


  23. - 13th - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    this is because of SMART Act and to help reduce Fraud in the HSP program, that simple.

    it keeps the PAs from coming in at 8:10 and putting down 8:00 on a paper time sheet.

    other agencies have also did this type of electronic time recording, like the community care program for in home care for senior citizens


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* *** UPDATED x1 - Quinn campaign responds *** Rauner campaign responds to firestorm over Sun-Times reporter's sidelining
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