Lawmakers return this week to Springfield for the legislative session, but the general sense is that because of the primary on March 20, the opportunities to pass legislation will be very concentrated to April and May following the spring break recess.  The Arc continues to focus on bills that will improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and families.  Here are the Arc of Illinois’ policy priorities for 2018.  Among the priorities include additional wage increases, support for individuals who have a dual diagnosis in the community, state support for family support, autism, engagement, respite and epilepsy programs. Check out the complete list here.

State of the State 2018: The Republican Rauner will give his fourth State of the State at noon Wednesday, but it will be his first facing re-election and since Illinois got a budget last July, ending a two-year stalemate between Rauner and legislators.” Story here.  The governor will give his State of the State address this Wednesday at noon in the House chambers. Here’s a link to watch and listen to his presentation.

Day program’s closing like a gut punch to family of autistic man,” by Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Brown: “Rick Bruno was in another room last fall when his wife Jean shrieked ‘Oh, my God, no’ in a way that led him to think there must have been a death in the family. Instead, Jean had just opened a letter from Easterseals informing them that the agency would soon be closing the program that for the past decade has been a lifeline for their autistic 32-year-old son Danny. ‘It was like getting punched in the gut,’ said Bruno, 62, a retired Tinley Park police officer who now works stadium security part-time. The closing becomes final on Wednesday, when Easterseals finishes winding down two adult day programs that previously served 44 individuals with developmental disabilities.” Story here.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against CPS for Discriminating Against Students with Disabilities Whose Parents Have Limited English Skills
PR Newswire, 1.29.18
A federal civil rights class action lawsuit was filed today against the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for failing to adequately serve students with disabilities and their parents who have limited English skills. CPS serves a diverse community that includes a large population of students from families whose native language is not English. 52,231 CPS students with disabilities receive special education students and 41 percent, or approximately 21,000, of these students lived in a household where English is not the native language.


Audit increases scrutiny of state’s managed care expansion

Elected officials were quick to critique Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration after an audit released last Tuesday found that his Department of Healthcare and Family Services failed to adequately monitor $7.1 billion in Medicaid payments to and by 12 managed care organizations in 2016. HFS, meanwhile, said the Medicaid managed care reboot will help ensure the program’s accountability and quality.  According to the report from the state’s auditor general, the department was unable to provide complete information to auditors on paid claims to providers, claims denied by MCOs and administrative and coordinated care costs incurred by the MCOS in 2016. It also has not calculated required medical loss ratios of MCOs since 2012 and may have made nearly $600,000 in duplicative payments.

The report comes as the state is expanding managed care to all 102 counties, shifting over nearly 700,000 Medicaid members. It’s set to pay seven managed care organizations $63 billion over the next four years, but Rauner’s administration has said it will ultimately save $1 billion. The number of Medicaid enrollees in managed care increased by 1,061 percent from 2008 to 2016, while fee-for-service enrollees decreased 47 percent during that period, according to the audit report.  Going forward, the auditor general recommends that HFS monitor actual administrative costs incurred by MCOs, require MCOs to submit payment data for all services, provide clear guidance to MCOs for reporting denied claims and ensure they are not making duplicative payments. It should also calculate the medical loss ratios from 2013 to 2016 to determine whether the state should be reimbursed due to overpayment.  According to the report, HFS agreed with most of the recommendations.


Legislators want say over future waivers

The governor would have to gain legislative approval before submitting a federal waiver decreasing protections or benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid under a proposal spearheaded by Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago.  The bill would not impact waivers that have already been submitted, including a pending proposal to overhaul how behavioral health is delivered through the state’s Medicaid program. But Harris said it would give the Legislature a say in future waivers if the governor tried to change benefits for things like maternity care or implement work requirements for Medicaid.  Harris filed legislation late last year and is working on an amendment to “fine tune” the proposal. Gov. Bruce Rauner has told reporters he supports the concept of work requirements for Medicaid, but pursuing it is not a priority. His office did not respond to a request for comment about Harris’ bill.


Studies that Need Your Voices

1) Do you take care of an adult child with a disability?  If you are interested in participating in a study exploring how state services affect the quality of life for adults with an intellectual or development disability (I/DD), contact researcher Camille Cooley. Here is the flier.

2)  We are accepting participants who are parents or legal guardians of children with disabilities (aged 5-21 years) who currently have an IEP. If you choose to participate in the study, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about yourself, your child, your child’s most recent IEP meeting, and your relationship with the members of your child’s IEP team.  The study will take about 30 minutes to complete. Fifty (50) participants will be randomly selected to receive a $20 gift card. If you would like, we can send you the study results once the study is complete.  If you would like to participate in our study, use the following link to access the survey:


Check out these great videos of advocates talking about living in the community!

Tom’s Video:
Bob Peterson’s Video –
Adam Cooper’s Presentation  –

The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT), a program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, recently launched a new podcast series on the changing world of work. The new series will include a focus on employment of people with disabilities through discussions on accessibility within changing workplace technology trends like remote work, live video, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality. Two episodes are available online now, with the first featuring a discussion on inclusive hiring lead by Cisco’s Pat Romzek. The podcast series are available online here

ACCESSABLE – We’re excited to announce the launch of accessABLE, news and updates about Illinois ABLE, the new savings and investment program for people with disabilities and their families!  Click ‘Sign Up’ below to receive program updates, find answers to your questions and to learn about upcoming events with Illinois ABLE. Plus, discover ways ABLE is helping people with disabilities live better lives


Meg Cooch Signature
Meg Cooch
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)