* Press release…
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced on Tuesday that state revenues will allow her office to pay another $94 million in past-due bills to Home Service Care providers who care for the elderly.
Since taking office in December, Comptroller Mendoza has now paid a total of more than $235 million in past due bills owed to vendors for the state’s Department on Aging, she announced Tuesday at the West Point Plaza senior apartments on the Near West Side.
“Our actions prove our commitment to Illinois seniors, the Department on Aging, the Community Care Program (CCP), and our citizens who rely on the program to stay in their homes and avoid being placed in a nursing home,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “We’re doing what we can to help, but this isn’t a long-term solution. To ensure our state’s neediest people are cared for, we need Governor Rauner to meet his most basic constitutional duty to propose a balanced budget for the General Assembly to act on. While people in Illinois continue to suffer, he continues to shirk his responsibilities and refuses to take ownership of the crisis.”
While the comptroller is prioritizing human services and programs like CCP, her office can only pay the bills it receives. Because the Governor shirked his constitutional duty to propose a balanced budget for the General Assembly to act on — and has twice vetoed funding for these social services — there is no spending authority to pay bills owed to these providers for services not covered by Medicaid. Nearly $200 million in bills for such services are sitting at the Department on Aging due to the lack of a budget.
“It’s time for Gov. Bruce Rauner to stop using seniors as pawns in his vicious budget game, where he is exploiting their pain and suffering to get what he wants on his political wish list,” said Tanya Moses, home healthcare worker in the Community Care Program.
Ashley’s Quality Care, which provides home care services for seniors, is just one example of the consequences of this inaction. The Canaryville home care provider is owed about $800,000 in non-Medicaid payments from the state. The lack of funding has forced them to reduce the number of seniors they care for from 900 to 300 in the last two years.
To add insult to injury, Gov. Rauner’s administration has prohibited Community Care vendors from participating in third-party loan programs managed by the administration and widely used by vendors like the highly-paid consultants Governor Rauner wants to prioritize. At a time when many social service providers have exhausted their lines of credit from banks, these programs could give them access to operating funds they need to keep their doors open.
“It really shows where The Governor’s heart is when he has opened up the Vendor Assistance Program to some of America’s largest corporations but has denied offering the same kind of life preserver to our frail elderly,” said State Rep. Gregory Harris. “I think it’s small business in Illinois we should be helping. Big insurance companies and multinational corporations should have the capacity to take care of themselves.”
*** UPDATE 1 *** From the ILGOP…
“Susana Mendoza taking credit for releasing these funds is like an arsonist posing as a firefighter. She’s throwing water on a fire she started by starving providers in the first place.”
Pretty tough case to make against a liberal, female Democrat. Just sayin…
*** UPDATE 2 *** A buddy of mine who represents a company that loans money through the Vendor Assistance Program just called to say that Comptroller Mendoza could change some paperwork coding for social service providers on her own to get them into the bill-paying program. Mendoza’s Republican predecessor apparently refused to do so. So, it’s not Rauner’s fault, it’s actually hers.
Time to put away the press releases and get to work.
*** UPDATE 3 *** The comptroller’s office says they will hear out the company rep, but they’re pretty adamant that they can’t change the coding on these vendors and is likely a misinterpretation of the rules. It’s up to CMS, they say, and the agencies, which submit the coding to the comptroller.