* 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 But the Illinois Department on Aging’s general counsel Rhonda Armstead then rescinded the move…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.
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.