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Community Care Program fight extends to task force membership flap

Monday, Oct 16, 2017

* A bill was signed into law this year which would create a Community Care Program Services Task Force to look for ways to reduce costs for programs for seniors “without diminishing the level of care.” The law requires that the task force contain “one individual from a statewide organization that advocates for seniors” and “one individual from an organization that represents caregivers” in the community care program.

Nobody from AARP or SEIU Healthcare were appointed even though the law seemed basically designed to put both groups on it. SEIU has been battling with the Rauner administration for years over this program and it was furious

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s scheme to cut 36,000 Illinois seniors from the vastly successful Community Care Program (CRP) by forcing them into an untested and unproven initiative, the so-called Community Reinvestment Program, was met with intense public outcry from day one. SEIU Healthcare Illinois and numerous aging advocates were outspoken against the Governor’s plan and it appears are now being PURPOSELY left out of the Community Care Program Services Task Force, mandated to look into ways to improve services for seniors.

* So, at its first meeting, the appointed members took a vote and added both AARP Illinois and SEIU Healthcare to the task force. But the Illinois Department on Aging’s general counsel Rhonda Armstead then rescinded the move

As the Ethics Officer and General Counsel for the Department on Aging, it is my responsibility to advise you and the other members of the Task Force that this action exceeds the prescribed scope of authority for the Task Force and is therefore void ab initio. In more practical terms, the action has no legal effect to change the membership composition of the Task Force.

* From Ryan Gruenenfelder, Director of Advocacy and Outreach, AARP Illinois…

AARP is a statewide independent advocate for the health and well-being of Illinois most vulnerable seniors; we represent 1.7 million individuals over the age of 50 in Illinois, and we are highly disappointed that our voice and the solutions we have to offer will not be included in the Task Force.

As a compromise on the decision not to fund IDOA’s proposed Community Reinvestment Program, a Task Force was created by legislators in July – which was supposed to be a good faith effort of those involved to work collaboratively to improve quality and efficiency in the CCP and ensure that CCP continues to serve Illinois’ vulnerable seniors at home for as long as possible, prevent unnecessary nursing home institutionalization, and save Illinois hundreds of millions of dollars annually. When the task force language was written, our understanding was AARP would be appointed as required by point 7 where it is clearly states that one of the members of the Task Force would be an statewide organization that advocates for seniors.

* Rep. Robyn Gabel sits on the task force…

AARP is the largest organization representing seniors. SEIU represents the vast majority of home health workers. I find it difficult and unproductive to have a conversation about the CCP without the two largest representatives of seniors and home health workers in the room.

* And so does Sen. Heather Steans…

I think that is very shortsighted. The task force language cleary includes an organization the advocates on behalf of seniors and an organization that represents home Health care workers. These groups are knowledgeable stakeholders that have significant insights to share about how we can improve the program and make it more efficient. The general assembly will want their input on any changes recommended as well.

* SEIU Healthcare

“As the union that represents the 28,000 caregivers who care for seniors every day as part of the Community Care Program, it is unfathomable that we would be deliberately excluded from any conversation about the future of the program. It is equally unfathomable that AARP would also be excluded. This follows a pattern wherein the Rauner Administration is deliberately excluding stakeholders from important debates that directly affect seniors, children, and people with disabilities. This task force appears to be rigged to arrive at the preordained conclusion. Rauner wants to attack seniors with a $120 million cut to a vastly successful program.”

* From Mike Deering at the Department on Aging…

Rich, have you looked at the list? Legally compliant, highly qualified, national authorities on the subject. The job is to serve the aging, not the advocacy groups. So what’s the problem?

He did not respond to follow-up questions. If you click here for the task force member list, it seems unclear to me which “statewide organization” advocates for seniors and which organization “represents caregivers.”

* Republican state Sen. Dale Righter, who also sits on the task force, says it’s all good and the department was right to kick those two groups off…

The [General Counsel’s] opinion is correct. The appointing authority and number of members are set in statute, the language for which was reviewed and approved by everyone involved. Since the task force itself doesn’t have the authority to change who is on the task force or the number of appointees, neither SEIU nor ARRP are members.

The next task force meeting is tomorrow.

* From a media advisory…

Sen. Andy Manar will join AARP Illinois, the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Caring Across Generations, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois for a press conference Tuesday, Oct. 17th at 8:30 a.m. at the Illinois Department on Aging headquarters… to discuss ways to strengthen senior home care services before a task force hearing on the Community Care Program.

BACKGROUND:

The Community Care program saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by allowing seniors to stay in their homes instead of of costly nursing home facilities.

Gov. Rauner sought to cut $120 million from the vastly successful program, but this was overridden in this summer’s bipartisan budget compromise.

The budget compromise expressly prohibited funds appropriated for CCP to be utilized for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s unproven and dangerous attempt to force 36,000 seniors into his untested Community Reinvestment Program (CRP), which would have replaced trusted caregivers with a patchwork of vouchers, ride-sharing companies, and housekeeping services.

While rules to create the CRP were finally pulled from the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in September, the administration is still pushing the proposal through a pilot program in Bloomington and Moline.

Advocates, seniors, and caregivers fear the administration will use the CCP Task Force as a vehicle to reintroduce the failed Community Reinvestment Program, and will use Tuesday’s press conference to put forth recommendations that will truly strengthen and preserve care for Illinois seniors while providing value to taxpayers.

After only a handful of meetings, the CCP Task Force is expected to vote on recommendations in their afternoon meeting Tuesday.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - Anon221 - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 2:06 pm:

    “…it seems unclear to me which “statewide organization” advocates for seniors and which organization “represents caregivers.”

    Clearly those organizations are Addus and Help at Home. /S


  2. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 2:10 pm:

    I am so old, I remember when Republicans courted AARP members instead of going out of their way to alienate them.


  3. - Baron von Hammer - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 2:18 pm:

    Addus and Help at Home are providers of service. Neither seem to fit “advocates” or “representatives.” The list itself seems to be filled with indiviuals representing the state rather than the affected population.


  4. - Whatever - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 2:22 pm:

    All these years, and I’ve never had an opportunity to use “ab initio” in legal advice! I am so envious.

    Armstead is right - the statute very clearly says who appoints each member of the task force, and there is no provision for the task force to appoint any members itself. The only provisions in the statute deal with creating the task force, requiring it to hold at least 4 meetings/public hearings, file a report, and dissolve. There is nothing that says the task force cannot listen to anyone they think has something good to say, and even incorporate that person’s thoughts into the report verbatim. So if the task force wants to invite AARP and SEIU to every meeting and solicit their advice, they certainly can. I suspect this is more an attempt to bully the task force than to give it legal advice.


  5. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    I could look at the list and try to decide which members fulfill those duties, but more importantly, who do Armstead and Righter say hold those seats?


  6. - Claude Peppers - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 2:26 pm:

    I don’t understand how someone that is not voting member can void the boards action regardless if the action is legal. Wouldn’t that be up to legal action, then ordered by a judge?


  7. - CCCP - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 2:32 pm:

    I’m glad to see Rauner openly shun AARP. It’s more honest than if he pretended to care and then worked to undermine them behind the scenes. This way, the Rauners’ private and public social agenda matches.
    For those of you who are always lamenting Rauner’s missteps and rooting for his success - AARP may be a problem for your candidate down the road.


  8. - JoeMaddon - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    The person on the committee that was appointed to the “statewide organization that advocates for seniors” slot works for an organization that isn’t allowed to advocate. The gentleman literally said in the first meeting, “I am not authorized to advocate.”


  9. - Anon221 - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 3:11 pm:

    Minutes, see page 3 and 4 on discussion concerning the membership of the committee-

    https://www.illinois.gov/aging/PartnersProviders/Documents/CCPTaskForce_Minutes8.24.17.pdf


  10. - Albany Park Patriot - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    The comment from the administration official seems like a good embodiment of how the Raunerites treat everyone.


  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 3:20 pm:

    So who’s the BTIA(TM) big-hitter in charge of picking stupid, petty fights?


  12. - Linda Jacobbsen - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    Wait - Righter provided a quote? The same Righter that was appointed AFTER the 30 day requirement clearly written in statute? You can’t pick and choose which parts of the law you follow, Senator.


  13. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 3:40 pm:

    If you look at the law, it also requires one individual representing Adult Day Care Centers and one home and community-based care employee. It is not clear who those folks are either.

    So, there are four slots designed to represent important constituency groups that were left vacant. Instead, the Gov directed the appointment of people who were so far afield that the Director had to clarify who was filling which slot. The Governor, once again, showed that he was more interested in his personal (anti-union, anti-social service) agenda than getting anything done.


  14. - Anon24 - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 4:00 pm:

    Dearest Mr. Deering: The job is to serve the aging, not the state’s ill-conceived notions of what’s best for seniors. Look at the problems you’re creating by not including legitimate advocacy groups.


  15. - Anon1202 - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 4:18 pm:

    Interesting that Rep. Gabel has an official statement but has yet to actually ATTEND a task force meeting to which she is appointed.


  16. - Reserved - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 5:17 pm:

    ==requires one individual representing Adult Day Care Centers ==

    Does that mean an officer from the Illinois National Guard?


  17. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Oct 16, 17 @ 5:59 pm:

    Where’s Frank Vala?


  18. - confussed - Tuesday, Oct 17, 17 @ 8:09 am:

    Frank Vala’s company, CCSI, is the only company that provides CCP, CCU and ADS programs in Illinois and has been around for 37 years. Is that not enough experience to serve on committee?


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