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Medicaid votes, budget battles and a very big cut

Thursday, May 24, 2012

* I’ve been warning subscribers about this development for almost two weeks. The Black Caucus made it official yesterday via press conference

Most people in Springfield have been planning for next year’s budget with the idea that there would be a $2.7-billion cut in Medicaid, the state’s program of health care for the poor.

That includes the budget Senate Democrats voted for. […]

Shortly before the Senate vote, black legislators came out as a united front, protesting the Medicaid reductions.

Rep. Mary Flowers, a Democrat from Chicago, says cutting benefits like prescription drugs is a lose-lose proposition. […]

With just a week left in the legislative session, the fight over Medicaid seems to be holding up a broader budget agreement.

There are more problems with Medicaid than this, but without Black Caucus votes, the benefit/eligibility/provider cut package can’t pass unless Republicans also support the plan. Subscribers know more about that aspect.

* Meanwhile, the Senate Democrats pushed through their own budget yesterday

emocrats rammed a budget plan through the Illinois Senate Wednesday, but the state’s financial blueprint for the coming fiscal year is far from being complete.

With the House still working to craft a bipartisan spending plan, action in the Senate was viewed as more symbolic than a finished product.

Republicans in Senate called the $33.7 billion proposal budgetary “sleight of hand” and a “sham” and wondered why Democrats weren’t waiting until there was more agreement with the House and Gov. Pat Quinn.

* Here’s some good reporting on what went down during debate

“I don’t think that we want to be in a position of waiting for the House to pass a budget. We want to get the process rolling. We don’t know whether we will get to an agreement [on Medicaid] yet or not, yet. So we are going to move a budget to the House and continue negotiations,” said Sen. Heather Steans, who sponsored two of the three budget bills that passed tonight.” […]

“So it’s more important to beat the House than it is to pass a sound budget that’s premised on everything that’s necessary to pass a budget, like what’s going to happen with Medicaid, the central issue in the entire budget? We are in such a rush to beat the House that we would rather do it fast … than do it right?” Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, asked during floor debate. Murphy said that the proposal would not put the state on track for financial stability when the recent income tax increase rolls back in 2015.

Democrats argued that Republicans have not presented a plan of their own, and the massive cuts they say they want would never be politically viable on either side of the aisle. “We think we’re doing this right. I could also suggest, if you don’t like this approach, we’d be happy to entertain a bill from you suggesting how we might do the budget,” Steans said. Democrats say that their budget is responsible because doesn’t spend more than the state will take in next fiscal year, and it would address $1.3 billion in overdue bills. The proposal would dip into money that is usually automatically transferred out of the General Revenue Fund and special funds to pay down the bills, and Steans said the money would not be repaid to those funds. […]

The Senate raced to keep up with the House last year and passed a budget that would have spent more than the other chamber’s proposal. In the end, the House won out. However, lawmakers did approve some additional spending later in the fiscal year. (For more on last year’s chamber vs. chamber budget battle, see the Illinois Issues blog.)

Sen. Dale Righter predicted that the history of last year would repeat itself. “It’s … a chamber squabble for you folks. It’s to beat the House of Representatives. And here’s what’s going to happen: You’re going to go through all this turmoil over here and all this grief,” Righter, a Republican from Mattoon, said. “And what’s going to happen is these budget bills are going to zoom over to the House of Representatives, and they will meet exactly the same demise as your budget did last year.”

* This schtick of the Republicans not presenting their own cuts - even via amendments to the Senate Democrats’ budget bills - is really getting old. The Democrats extrapolated overall Republican budget demands (which I told subscribers about several days ago) and came up with some numbers

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the kind of cuts being demanded by Republicans would slash $446 million from education and $350 million from human services.

“It would be impossible to pass a budget with those cuts,” he said.

* But the SGOPs did make one very good point. From a press release…

Buried within a budget plan approved by Illinois Senate Democrats on May 23 was a $1.5 million earmark for a little-known program that is supposed to recruit and train parents and community leaders to become teachers.

The problem is, the program has already received more than $19 million in its first six years and only produced 29 teachers. That’s an average of $662,000 per teacher.

In fact, only 54 individuals have ever graduated from the program, which works out to $356,000 per graduate. Although students who fail to graduate or who do not take teaching jobs are supposed to repay their educational costs, most are “counseled out” of the program, which does not require a repayment.

Digging deeper into the statistics – a total of 615 students have started the program since it’s beginning in fiscal year 2006. That works out to a dismal graduation rate of 8.7%.

Despite the massive failure of the program, the Senate Democrat budget would provide a total of $1.5 million for the program.

Where does the money go? The program hands out grants to 15 consortia around the state. One of the requirements of the program is that each consortia must include at least one “community organization,” one school district, one two- or four-year college, a teachers’ union or a regional office of education.

* More

Before approving the budget, Democrats added back money to keep the Jacksonville Developmental Center open. It was slated to close under an earlier version of the budget.

The spending plan also provides money to cover only about half of state employee health insurance costs next year. That would give Gov. Pat Quinn more leverage in union contract negotiations, Steans said.

* In other news, I received a desperate call today from a woman who’s trying to stop what she says would be devastating cuts to a crucial Medicaid program. Here’s her e-mail…

Dear Rich Miller,

House amendment 4 to SB 2840 includes a section, on p. 81 of the new amendment, that guts the Medically Fragile Technology Dependent Waiver for children. This program provides home nursing for 500 children with ventilators and other medical technology. The result of this amendment would be hundreds of children taken away from their families and hospitalized permanently, at three times the cost of care under the current program.

The new amendment would limit this program to families who earn 500% FPL or less, and imposes exorbitant copays that many families will be unable to pay. It also (p. 70) removes a guarantee in current law that states children with an institutional level of care or higher are eligible for home and community based services.

Here are the most important things to know about this issue:

1) This legislation could lead to hundreds of children being cut out of this program. These children are so medically complex that most of them will end up hospitalized permanently. It only costs $188,210 a year to care for these kids at home, but it costs $660,000 to care for them in the hospital, three times as much.

2) SSA law requires that the state cover costs for these children in a hospital/institution, but does not require them to cover home based services. Therefore, the state will be paying three times as much per child for every child who is cut off the program. Only 23 children would need to be hospitalized to erase all of the proposed savings.

3) Both Equip for Equality (Illinois’ federally-appointed Advocacy and Protection agency) and the Arc of Illinois have stated this legislation is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act as interpreted by the Olmstead Supreme Court decision. Both groups have written letters to the Governor and others expressing this fact. [See http://www.thearcofil.org/arc-fights-changes-to-medically-fragile-technology-dependent-childrens-waiver for the ARC of IL; the Equip for Equality letter is not yet on their website–we have an advance copy if needed.]

4) A family of 3 who earns 500% FPL would have to pay 246% of their income in order to keep their child at home, which is obviously impossible. $188,210 is the average cost of care, and some children have much higher costs. You would have to earn 1500% FPL just to break even after taxes for the average kid, and more than 2500% FPL for a sicker higher-needs child.

We have at least 17 families who are willing to be interviewed and have invited media and legislators into their homes. Our families are desperate–their children are about to be taken away from them because on paper it would save money, when in reality it would actually cost more.

I have attached a background information packet for your reference as well as our most recent press release. Please help us!

The background packet is here.

* Related…

* Quinn might close parks he once backed Legislators angered by perceived closure threats

* Illinois Senate budget called premature

* Senate Democrats’ budget includes Murray Center funding, but GOP calls plan ‘Blagojevichian

* Democrats ram budget plan through state Senate

* Illinois House, Senate get down to work

* Illinois subsidy cuts just part of squeeze on child care

* Voice of The Southern: Back to the drawing board, Mister Speaker!

* Cities fight proposal to freeze local share of state income tax

* Quinn lauds biz backing for pension, Medicaid reform

* Gov. Quinn Going After Senior Prescriptions

- Posted by Rich Miller        

47 Comments
  1. - Just Because - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 10:57 am:

    This letter is sad, but it goes along with what is truly needed in state government. Leadership, accountability


  2. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    I wonder if any of our politicians have ever heard of Kate Beckett.


  3. - Bill White - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    Ending the MFTDW waiver isn’t merely sad, it is also fiscally irresponsible.

    If repealed, the taxpayers will end up paying more just so a few legislators can grandstand about their seeming fiscal frugality.


  4. - steve schnorf - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:19 am:

    ain’t no easy road, truckers


  5. - Sam - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:33 am:

    Taking children with special needs from their homes and hospitalizing them at increased costs to the state while violating federal law at the same time? And doing it one day before the funeral of Katie Beckett, the 34 year old woman who as a child was rescued from living her life in a hospital by President Reagan, who changed the law allowing kids to live at home at lower cost?

    Have these people any sense of decency? Or mathematical skills, for that matter?

    Seriously?


  6. - lincolnlover - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    So, we keep this, but what should we cut instead?How about the teacher recruitment program that Rich exposes in the other thread? Theres 1.5 mil that could definitely be put to better use.


  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:40 am:

    –Murphy said that the proposal would not put the state on track for financial stability when the recent income tax increase rolls back in 2015.–

    Call. Let’s see your cards. Put up or…..


  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    Over on the right, Quinn has a laundry list of businesses and business groups backing his Medicaid and pension proposals.

    Conspicuous in their absence are CME and Sears Holding, for whom he carried a lot of water last winter.

    That’s gratitude.

    http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=3&RecNum=10263


  9. - Just Sayin' - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:56 am:

    That letter and the situation it describes is brutal. Absolutely brutal. There is no way I’d want to be the Governor or a state legislator in Illinois. Talk about facing no win propositions. I realize how desperate the budget situation is but there is no way I could live with myself voting to cut such programs.


  10. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    I agree with the assessment Rich made. Republicans - put up or shut up.


  11. - Anon - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 12:08 pm:

    I have no pity for the legislators because they refuse to get rid of ineffective programs like the one described above and reform others such as the worker’s compensation system.


  12. - soccermom - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 12:37 pm:

    Word — it might do the Governor’s cause more harm than good if Sears and CME came out in favor of big cuts.


  13. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 12:38 pm:

    @Schnorf -

    With all due respect, there IS any easy road.

    Its relatively easy to make cuts to programs is you don’t concern yourself with what the programs actually do, only how much they cost.

    Its relatively easy to make cuts if you only focus on how much those cuts might save you this year, and ignore how much more they will end up costing you next year, or five or ten years down the road.

    It’s relatively easy to cut programs that primarily serve poor people, the disabled and sick, the elderly, as opposed to even meekly suggesting that we take a peek at the $1.5 billion in tax breaks that corporations receive. Tax breaks for which there’s not a single public study which shows they create jobs.

    Its relatively easy to make cuts if your primary goal is appeasing the Tribune editorial board, and not the state’s long-term fiscal and social sustainability.

    I, like many voters in Illinois, am tired of hearing the schtick from you, the governor, lawmakers, and every other apologist about “shared pain” and “sacrifices.”

    Sears, CME, and the other major corporations in Illinois that receive $1.5 billion in tax breaks every year aren’t being asked to sacrifice a single thing in this budget. Its no surprise the Illinois Chamber of Commerce for backing this budget.

    I mean, really, in a budget that’s targeted to cut roughly $3.7 billion in spending, you’d think there would be at least one corporate tax loophole on the table. One that is less vital to the state than our moral responsibility to children who are so sick they are literally fighting for every breath.

    C’mon Steve, your a smart guy. Isn’t there at least one loophole you think your fellow Republicans should consider closing, even if only temporarily?


  14. - Cook County Commoner - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 12:42 pm:

    None of this is going to work. Even assuming the SA excises waste in Medicaid, implements some needed efficiencies and cuts back on the standard of care, the spiralling costs will reappear. In Illinois, there are some 2.9 million baby boomers (born between 1946-65), equal to more than one-quarter of the state’s working-age population, according to the Illinois Departments of Aging and Labor. Few are or ever will be financially prepared for retirement, except for the lucky few with government pensions (if they remain mostly intact). Many will leave the workforce before Medicare age due to illness or job loss, and lack of resources will take them to Medicaid. Lack of resources will also require many to remain at work well past traditional private sector retirement around 65. This will negatively impact economic opportunities for younger citizens. Accordingly, the younger folks will need to access Medicaid. Result: Somewhere in the near future desparate voters will bring back the status quo. What is needed is a comprehensive, probably national solution, to healthcare and retirement income for all, not just government elites. Mathematics and demographics cannot be suspended by Illinois government chicanery. Put another way, there just isn’t enough revenue to handle what’s here and certainly not enough to handle what’s coming.


  15. - Sam - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 12:51 pm:

    @upsate You are so right. Let’s create a system by which the only way for a family to keep their kid with special needs at home is to quit their job and put the whole family on the government dole. That’ll work.


  16. - Sam - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:04 pm:

    @Upsate The state can’t do anything to stop having to pay for the cost of these kids care when permanently hospitalized. It’s federal law. That’s why Ronald Reagan, that lover of welfare, supported these programs. Here, watch the video including his comments:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIuVCWllp6Q


  17. - Sam - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:20 pm:

    @Upsate Maybe Illinois knows something that every other state in the country, even those run by the tea party, don’t? No other state in the country has restricted access to less expensive home care for kids like these. Have you considered the possibility that such knee jerk, bumper sticker thinking might be a big reason we’re in a fiscal mess?


  18. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:25 pm:

    === Mathematics and demographics cannot be suspended by Illinois government chicanery. ===

    Well said, Cook County Commoner.

    To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains - however improbable - must be the answer.

    We can’t change the laws of mathematics.

    We can’t alter the flow of time which ensures that a year from now, everyone will be one year older (assuming they are still alive).

    Nor can we alter the basic biological fact that illnesses and injuries, left untreated, have a tendency to become much more serious and eventually life-threatening.

    Yet we ignore these immutable truths because apparently the ONLY way to balance the budget is to cut $2.7 billion from health care.

    I agree that making cuts elsewhere — like closing corporate tax loopholes is much more difficult politically — but its a heck of a lot easier than making 2 + 2 = 1.


  19. - sad dad - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:27 pm:

    @ upstate, it is narrow minded ,and uneducated fools like you that do nothing to help the problem but you sure like to shoot your mouth off as if you know something. I work hard and so does my wife. we have an income and insurence to support ourselves and our daughter. yes we wanted another child cause we could afford to do so and had a house with space foe another child. so we decided to have one. we wanted a healthy normal child. what we got was a blessing of a child who needed very special care. he has bonded our family togeather in ways you just wouldnt understand unless you are living thru it. now we are happy and complete, but our insurence will not pay for his nursing and equipment, and as hard as i try i cant make the 188,000 dollers a year it takes for those services. Katie Beckets legacy and the waiver program alows us to stay togeather as a family. in doing so my son has excedded Dr prognosis and is doing well and starts kindergarden in the fall. this waiver program saves children, saves families. it is a vital need in the state… and i dare you or anyone to look me or my son in the eye and say all we want is a handout.


  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:38 pm:

    Upstate must be a bad gag.


  21. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:42 pm:

    upsate, either learn how to spell your screen name or don’t come back.


  22. - Soccermom - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:44 pm:

    Upsate, you have not thought this through. Are you saying the government should require prenatal testing and forced abortion of kids with disabilities if the parents don’t have a couple million in the bank? (because even parents with good salaries could lose their jobs)

    And if a kid becomes seriously ill or disabled after birth, should the state have the right to pull the plug to protect taxpayers?

    Are you willing to go to the homes of all the children who would be hit by this and tell them and their parents it would be better if they just died?

    And are you absolutely certain that you will never lose your job, that there are no aneurysms or rogue cells ticking away inside you or anyone you love? Did you get a written guarantee that a quick trip to the grocery will not become a life changing event thanks to a drunk driver or a blown tire?

    Life is hard for all of us and there is nothing we can do to protect our families from random tragedy. So we should count our blessings and help our neighbors


  23. - The Elderly Man You Used to Love - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:47 pm:

    How is refusing to present amendments or alternative ideas more schtick than passing a budget bill that is DOA in the House?


  24. - steve schnorf - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:58 pm:

    Dog, I’m sorry if I’m getting on your nerves, but my thinking stays pretty much the same. You have brought up closing corporate and business tax loopholes, etc, repeatedly in the past. I have no problem with doing that. But for some reason it doesn’t happen.

    These budgets and the votes to enact them can’t be easy for Ds. These are your labor unions getting shafted, your inner city poor losing services-things that have been near to the hearts of Illinois Ds for a long time. Do you think I’m out of touch or heartless on those things? Hell, I helped design and implement some of them them under two moderate Republican Governors. KidCare, FamilyCare, subsidized child care, those things didn’t have to be shoved down Edgar and Ryan’s throats, they supported them, in the face of opposition of some in their own party. But those two Governor’s understood things had to be paid for. We lost that perspective under Gov Blagojevitch (no! new! taxes! period!)

    When I say no easy road, I mean we are long since out of good, even reasonable, answers. We’re down to bad choices, so whatever we will choose will be pretty bad for someone. Therefore, it must be easier for the Governor and majority leaders of the 2 Houses to put together the votes to cut back Medicaid than it is to put together the votes to close corporate loopholes, or they would do that instead. Am I being illogical here?

    I’m not stupid. The problems we face weren’t created exclusively by either Ds or Rs. I don’t like the way the Senate Rs are acting any more than you do, but they circulate the petitions, get on the ballots, get a plurality of the votes from people just like you and me.

    The state is like a person with just enough money to cover living expenses; living expenses go up and revenues go down, spending has to change. Of course it isn’t fair to make people choose among rent, food and medicine. That’s why I say no east road. Elected officials have to be convinced your proposed road is the better one, the easier one. That isn’t happening, even with your party in control.


  25. - Sam - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 1:59 pm:

    Starting September 1st, 2012:

    It will cost a millionaire nothing to permanently hospitalize their child with a severe disability while the state picks up the tab for $660,000 per year.

    But a family earning 96K will be expected to pay $188K out of pocket to keep their kid home or give up their kid to the state, so it can pay $660K instead.

    Only in Illinois, my friends. Moody’s, are you reading this? When you determine our bond ratings, consider the mathematical chicanery of our leaders.


  26. - soccermom - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    @schnorf - There are no easy answers to the whole problem, but I think the SGOP has the right idea in saying that it makes sense to pull the plug on a program that isn’t panning out. We can’t balance the budget with a million here and a million there, but we can move those dollars around to fund top-priority stuff like keeping disabled kids alive and at home with their families.


  27. - steve schnorf - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 2:15 pm:

    Mom, it would seem to me to be a great idea to move money from that teacher training program into funding for these medically fragile children, so you are preaching to the choir on that one.


  28. - Freeman - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 2:27 pm:

    I swear that putting our fellow CapFax posters in a room with each other for just a few days would churn out the most stable, logical, well-balanced and solution-oriented budget Illinois has seen in decades.

    It would address multiple issues in an evenhanded fashion while embracing a long term vision for our state.

    In fact, Rich would have to create a one-off horseshoe award for “Best Budget Ever.”

    The concern and knowledge present in the comments of so many here are clearly sincere, even when we disagree. And while I don’t always concur with YDD, his two posts above do an especially excellent job of expressing the concerns and frustrations of many.

    In some ways, I suppose this entire operation of Rich’s is a version of sitting in that closed room and hashing things out together. Now if we can only keep things from getting so cluttered offline.

    As a tangent: maybe we can give upstate his own room to solve our state’s problems.


  29. - fyi - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 3:08 pm:

    Save the MFTD Waiver is an organized effort of parents/caretakers of these kids. They are aggressively contacting legislators and media. Here’s there website: http://savemftdwaiver.com/index.html


  30. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 3:21 pm:

    @Schnorf -

    I don’t think the road I suggest is the easy road by any means. I don’t think we elect leaders to figure out what the easiest thing is for them to do.

    We elect them to figure out what the right thing is to do, and then do it, no matter how hard.

    If, for example, you have no problem closing corporate loopholes, perhaps as a voting member of the Commission charged with reviewing corporate tax expenditures, you could bring that up at the next meeting?

    Meanwhile, I’ll keep reminding Democrats that we need to have greater transparency, accountability, and public input into the budget process, to ensure that its driven by the public’s priorities, not special interests, and to ensure we’re delivering the services the public wants as smartly, efficiently and effectively as possible.

    For kickers, you could remind Republicans that the best way to grow jobs in Illinois is to ensure every child gets a world class education, not give a handful of companies hundreds of millions in tax breaks.

    And I’ll remind Democrats that every dollar we spend on this, that or the other thing is one less dollar we have to spend on the things voters care most about: education, health care, and human services.

    Again, Steve, no matter how loud I am, I’m just one guy. You, on the other hand, are a former high-ranking GOP official who has the Governor’s ear. If you think we can and should do better than the budget that’s being served up, you can actually do something about it.


  31. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 3:28 pm:

    Another solution to MFTD: add it to the mandatory coverage list for insurance companies, and/or require all insurance companies in Illinois to pay into a fund so that Medicaid can continue to provide the services they refuse to.

    I suspect that many, many costs currently being paid by Medicaid are actually cost shifts from private insurance companies.

    Someone gets pregnant while employed with insurance. Loses her job. Who pays for the delivery? Medicaid.

    Someone develops osteoporosis across 20 years while having insurance, but doesn’t fall and break their hip until their retired? Medicaid or Medicare pays.

    We’ve got a perverse system right now that encourages insurers and their providers to ignore a host of chronic illnesses because the bill won’t come due until they are older. A big reason “managed care” doesn’t work. Its incentivised to manage costs, but only for as long as they are actually your patient.


  32. - ConcernedinEvanston - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 3:38 pm:

    @Yellow Dog Democrat. Advocates for MFTD originally proposed that the state mandate that private insurers cover all medically necessary healthcare in the home. HFS tried to get up to $36,000 covered in a revision of a current law requiring that autism treatments be covered. Both efforts died because of industry opposition. This is the biggest joke of all. Look at the insurers’ bottom lines. The state is in debt to help pay for these families’ care because private insurers will not cover what is expressly a legitimate, medical need. These children require 24/7 care in order to survive. But the insurers call this “custodial” care and won’t pay for it.


  33. - Sam - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 3:41 pm:

    @Yellow Dog Democrat. You are right that private insurers pass on the costs to the state. In fact, the state sued Blue Cross and won a $25 million settlement for dumping these kids on the state…

    http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2011/pr0224_01a.pdf

    The state just took the money, but didn’t make Blue Cross or any other insurer pick up the costs going forward.

    The state is scapegoating the families for what the insurance companies won’t do.


  34. - Both Sides Now - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 3:41 pm:

    Loved Freeman’s comment. In general, the commentors on this blog are passionate, logical but creative, and could do a better job than those sitting in the Capitol. The posts here should be required reading for them on a daily basis!


  35. - The South Springfield Bagman - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 3:42 pm:

    Schnorf’s insights are informative and his moderation is appreciated, but one must remember that it’s easy to be moderate and sensible when one’s last term of office is at least a decade in the rear-view mirror.  In that sense, Schnorf is decidedly removed from the exegencies of the hyper-partisan political atmosphere that has taken hold in the nation and in Illinois.  Schnorf’s elder statesman persona and his turn towards moderation on this blog does nothing to change the role he played in the enactment of the failed 1995 pension funding law, the costly 2002 ERI, and the pension benefit upgrades of the late 1990’s.  I ask you, which is worse, hyper partisan conservatism or big government conservatism?  Who is more to blame, the people who created the problem or the people who won’t fix the problem?  Schnorf’s conscience may be clear, but his hands are not clean.


  36. - soccermom - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 4:21 pm:

    Yeah, I totally blame Schnorf for all of it.


  37. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 4:23 pm:

    Tattaglia could never have outfought Santino. But I didn’t know until this very day that it was Schnorf all along.


  38. - carbaby - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 4:46 pm:

    The MFTD waiver also includes children in foster care. In order for children to qualify for this, they are very high end medically. We have many medically complex children in our program who do not qualify for MFTD but still receive nursing agency services. Currently, all foster children receiving agency nursing in the home are being/will be “re-evaulated” by HHS. These reviews started in January. We are currently involved in a situation where HHS wants to not only take away 4 hours per day of nursing but also wants just one nurse to be assigned to two children who are in separate bedrooms. Both of these children are nonambulatory, have wheelchairs, and have Trache’s and G-tubes for feeding. This is a cost saving measure but how HHS is going to get either child’s doctor to actually sign the Physician Order to agree is another issue. An HHS staff actually stated in a email to me since this was a two parent home, that the foster parents would fill in the for the shortfall of the nursing coverage. So is the assumption that people don’t work or have other family or house responsibilities? This places a tremendous amount of stress on families that cannot be measured.

    I was at the Cook County Juvenile Presiding Judge’s quarterly meeting last Thursday and the new DCFS Director, Richard Callica, stated that given the cuts that are on the table for medicaid, he is not sure the medical card that is issued to foster children will be worth the paper it’s printed on. We have about 17,000 children in care and many more who have achieved permanency who receive Medicaid cards. Where will the money for State REQUIRED medical care/treatment/services come from then? Certainly DCFS will not be able to cover those costs even though they are the Guardian responsible for these children- especially in light of the fact that they are also facing cuts and acknowledge a lack of resources.


  39. - Surf1 - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 4:58 pm:

    All this talk of cost-cutting. At the same time, our legislators are poised to approve SB 3442, which would mandate a statewide plastic recycling program with IEPA oversight. The fiscal note indicates that the new statwide program (admin., oversight, enforcement, proscution, etc.) will have no fiscal impact. [clearing throat]

    No fiscal impact? Really? Not only will the program have genuine fiscal impacts, but it is also mandates recycling when California has already demsonstrated that after 15 years of a well-designed program, the economics of recycling plastic DO NOT WORK.

    C’mon, folks. Oppose SB 3442, now in the Illinois House. There is no valid reason to support it.


  40. - sad dad - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 5:12 pm:

    @ sam, the purposed income cap now is 500% above poverty level…if they were to change that to say 2500% above poverty level then the millionaires that might be in this situation would have to pay the cost they could afford while the average joe who desperatly needs this program would still have it


  41. - sal-says - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 5:43 pm:

    I understand that quinn and the legislature have their kahoonies against the grindstone. But that’s no different from any year of the last 10.

    Is there ANY actual staff work that goes in to understanding and evaluating what a specific cut actually means?

    How long has the ‘legislature’ and quinn had to figure this out?


  42. - steve schnorf - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 8:47 pm:

    I’ve been at a grandkid’s soccer game, but all I could think about was that if I hadn’t grown up in the same town as Edgar, hadn’t supported him in ‘74, I probably wouldn’t have gone to work for him and NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE EVER HAPPENED! Try sleeping with that at night.

    Dog, if you think I’m influential with the Rs and have the Gov’s ear, I have a nice bridge to sell you. High praise, indeed, but that’s about all it is.


  43. - Indeedy - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 9:14 pm:

    I can’t help but convert the combined annual take of Illinois’ pension abusers into an equivalent of medical care and prescriptions for our most medically needy children. My abject contempt for a number of former electeds may be near rabid, but, hey, if I’ve gotta pick . . .


  44. - Peter Snarker - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 9:21 pm:

    Steve Schnorf @ 8:47

    The line about growing up in the same town and supporting in ‘74… reminds me of “Outliers” and the randomness of a career/life.

    The most interesting question around the state is the “real” answer to “how did you get here?”. It’s always quite a tale.

    Good post.


  45. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 10:46 pm:

    94 votes in the House.


  46. - Difficult to sleep tonight - Thursday, May 24, 12 @ 11:56 pm:

    A sad day for parents of medically fragile children. How can the men and women of the house and senate sleep to night knowing that Illinois’s most vulnerable children might no longer be able to live at home. I wonder what kind of state I live in were politicians vote on bills they know so little about. If only they can live in these parents shoes for just one 24 hour period. We should be ashamed of the way Illinois will be going back to 1981 and forcing children to live in hospitals like Katie Beckett did until President Ronald Reagan made changes in Medicaid and allowed her to live at home with her family. All Illinois medically fragile technology dependent children deserve the same opportunity.


  47. - Wow, Really, how can they? - Friday, May 25, 12 @ 9:06 am:

    Wow! That is about all I can say. This is one of the most critical aids our kids have and they have taken it away! How can they sleep, take their pay raises and breathe. They should spend the weekend in the hospital or nursing home and see what it is like. Medicaid is allowed children to live at home with love and caring. I shudder to think of the care they will receive when they are not loved by their caregivers and their caregivers are not given raises. WE should not vote for anyone that is in office now that allowed this to pass. What would they think then. It would be a statement, think about it.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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