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Another federal court filing that could cost the state big bucks

Monday, Jul 17, 2017

* Press release…

Attorneys for Illinois residents with developmental disabilities have pleaded with the federal court to force the State to raise rates to service providers, contending that the existence of the state’s group homes is “precarious” under current funding levels.

The argument came Friday in a brief (attached) in support of a motion the lawyers filed in April, asking U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman to enforce the Ligas Consent Decree. The court-appointed monitor has declared the State out of compliance with the decree for the past two years, and the attorneys said in May that the service system “is on the brink of disaster.”

The attorneys rejected the State’s contention that the court lacks authority to order a rate increase, citing a decision by Judge Joan Lefkow June 30 to enforce another consent decree by ordering the State to pay $586 million a month in Medicaid payments to physicians and $2 billion worth of back bills. They said Lefkow’s order “requires funding to enforce the provisions of the consent decree, as (we) have requested here.”

The brief was filed by Equip for Equality, an advocacy group, and the ACLU, representing the Ligas plaintiffs, and two lawyers representing residents of intermediate care facilities.

Illinois is the wealthiest of the Midwest states, the attorneys said, “yet only contributes a third of the average Midwest per-person rate for developmental disability services. The lower overall funding of these services in Illinois—at rates substantially less that the actual operation costs—places Illinois’ (group homes) in a precarious existence.”

The plaintiffs only seek “what was promised to them” by the State, the attorneys said. They said the State “ignores the fact that plaintiffs bargained for—and, more importantly, obtained—an express commitment that class members would not simply be moved out of institutions, but would receive the person-centered services necessary for true community integration. . . . The State cannot enter into a consent decree agreeing to provide certain services and then excuse itself from compliance by claiming that providing the very services it agreed to would be too expensive.”

The new state budget provides for a 75-cent-an-hour wage increase for disability workers, far below what the lawyers say is needed.

Disability consultant Ed McManus said the State is clearly shirking its duty to Illinois’ residents with developmental disabilities. McManus operates a Wilmette-based consulting firm representing 30 provider agencies around the state.

“Equip for Equality sued the State in 2005 for its failure to provide adequate services, and the State settled the litigation and avoided trial by agreeing to the consent decree,” he said. “Now it’s claiming all it had to do was provide services to more people, with no regard for quality. That’s preposterous! Providers are experiencing an unprecedented staff shortage due to low wages, and the quality of services has plummeted as a result. Hopefully, Judge Coleman will recognize this and not let the State off the hook.”

The filing is here.

…Adding… Kerry Lester has more on this general topic today. Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Skeptic - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:30 am:

    ” The State cannot enter into a consent decree agreeing to provide certain services and then excuse itself from compliance by claiming that providing the very services it agreed to would be too expensive.” Now, where have I heard that argument before? Oh, right…the plaintiffs in that 2015 Pension case. It was solid and convincing then, I don’t see it being any less so now.

  2. - winners and losers - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:47 am:

    After utterly failing in its job to protect people in community placements (CILAs), Equip for Equality is attempting through court action to force the state of Illinois to provide more money, saying lack of state funding is the reason for the abuse and neglect that the Chicago Tribune has documented.

    Equip for Equality is the federally-mandated Protection and Advocacy System for Illinois. But it also has advocated for the closing of state facilities like Jacksonville Developmental Center and more money for CILAs, and I believe studiously ignores its duty to protect people placed in or choosing to live in those community homes.

    Who is supposed to hold Equip for Equality accountable?
    Letter to the Editor, SJR, April 25, 2017

  3. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    This will add up to a lot of money the state doesn’t have. The developmental disabilities waiver is huge.

  4. - Waffle Fries - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    I almost feel bad for the AG’s office in having to try and do its best to come up with a defensible argument against the motion to enforce.

  5. - LTSW - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:06 am:

    Waffle Fries, don’t feel bad for the AG. Those attorneys have put us in this position by settling these suits under the consent decree process all the while knowing the state couldn’t comply. Both gov’s agencies and legislative committees have responded to the AG that we can’t comply but the AG agree to decree settlement anyway.

  6. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:52 am:

    Good point “winners and losers”. Equip for Equality KNEW about the abuse/neglect/deaths in these CILAs and did nothing to stop it. They believe in “community” over everything….even at the expense of the disabled….the very people they are supposed to protect. They are given millions of dollars every year from the state to oversee the care of the disabled, and they have failed miserably. They have never, ever, been to my brother’s CILA nor have they ever visited any of the CILAs in the agency that runs my brother’s home and many others.

  7. - Ghost - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    Wait the disability workers sued to be free of a union…. now they are mad that there wages arent going up?

  8. - Aldyth - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 1:48 pm:

    Ghost - A different set of disability workers.

    In the almost ten years since those of us who run group homes and day programs took a huge funding cut that eliminated entire programs and services, my staff have seen one raise. Would you do that? Would you be that dedicated to people who need to be fed and toileted?

  9. - walker - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 2:51 pm:

    Don’t see how IPI’s pie-in-the-sky arguments and numbers, will stand up to such realities.

  10. - Emagrecer rapido e com Saude - Tuesday, Jul 18, 17 @ 12:13 am:

    Dependendo do seu objetivo, a quantidade ira’ mudar.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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