Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill Friday seeking to prevent the state from making eligibility requirements tougher for home services programs.
Under the bill, HB 4351, the minimum eligibility, or Determination of Need (DON), score could not be raised above the current figure of 29 for the Home Services and Community Care Programs. Through the respective programs, people with disabilities and seniors are connected to personal attendants who can assist them at their homes.
Rauner has previously proposed raising the DON score from 29 to 37 as a means to cut costs. The Rauner administration has since dropped its plan to increase the DON score.
In his veto message, Rauner expressed concern that the legislation "would prevent the State from managing ever-rising costs and jeopardize our ability to ensure that essential community services remain available for the approximately 44,000 non-Medicaid persons now served by CCP."
He said the bill would allow qualified program participants to "be eligible for both institutional and home and community-based long term care services."
"Instead, an individual with the threshold score should be entitled to institutional or home and community-based care," the governor's veto message reads. "Many members of the General Assembly have long worked to transition the state from a reliance on institutional-based care to a focus on community care options that improve patient quality and cost efficiency. However, House Bill 4351 inhibits this transformation in the way the State delivers services for the elderly and disabled."
According to SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, which backed the legislation, the governor's proposals put 44,000 seniors "at risk of forced institutionalization."
Terri Harkin, vice president of home health care at SEIU Healthcare Illinois, released this statement Friday:
The only thing certain about Governor Rauner's plans are that he intends to cut $200 million in care for seniors. Everything else he is proposing is either untried, unproven or outright ineffective. For instance, does the governor believe that an 84-year-old with dementia is going to successfully navigate the path from a single in-home caregiver to managing multiple contracts with outside vendors she doesn't know who she must now trust to come into her home?
The evidence shows that Rauner's plans will cost taxpayers more in the long run, to say nothing of the anxiety and danger it will bring to thousands of seniors. This veto was a bad idea to match his bad policy in service of nothing more than a political vendetta.
State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) sponsored the legislation in their respective chambers.
"Keeping seniors in their homes instead of forcing them into costlier institutions fulfills our obligations to seniors, who have contributed their whole lives to Illinois," Biss said in a statement. "It is a shame that in their twilight, and for reasons that have nothing to do with improving care or saving taxpayer dollars, they are forced to be used as pawns in Governor Rauner's political games."
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.