On behalf of The Arc of Illinois, we wish you a very happy holiday and new year.  We will start back up the weekly update in the new year as The Arc will be closed next week until January 2.

Supportive Housing Know Your Options Events
Hope to see many of you later today at the Supportive Housing and Services Know Your Options Event today.  There is one more as well.  Click here to check out the locations.

  • Wednesday, December 19, 2018 -12:00 -2:00 p.m. at Waters Edge in South Elgin, 418 N. Center St., South Elgin;
  • Thursday, January 3, 2018 -6:30 -8:30 p.m. at PhilHaven in Wheeling; 2418 E. Hintz Rd., Wheeling

Call to Action – We Can’t Let the Senate Leave Before Funding the Money Follows the Person Program
Our senators are in support of this bill but there are things you can do to help!

DDD Sends Out Early Notification to 986 People on PUNs
Last Friday, the Division of Developmental Disabilities sent out letters to 986 individuals giving them early notification indicating that DDD anticipates they will be included in the next PUNS selection in late spring 2019, subject to the State’s budgetary process.   The actual PUNS selection will not occur until the budget has been finalized next spring to ensure that the legislature includes funding for the new services.

It is important to remember their selection will be subject to appropriation by the legislature.  Services cannot begin until after the budget has been settled and the official PUNS selection letters are in hand.  These won’t be released until late spring/early summer of 2019.  The effort for early notification is to allow individuals and families time to prepare for the selection (get medicaid, think about what types of services they want etc) with an additional six months.

If you receive a letter and have any questions, please email the Ligas Family Advocates’ program director, Shirley Perez (shirley@thearcofil.org) or call 708-331-7370. 

Consumers and Families: Share with the Arc of Illinois about your experience with adult services over the past year.  Fill out this three question survey now!

Thanks to the almost 80 people who have shared what is working and what is missing around adult services in the community.  We want to hear from more self-advocates and family members about needs.  We are using this for our advocacy as well as to share with policy makers and the court monitor.  Please share your experience!

Major Recent Events

Income Support: House and Senate Pass Bipartisan Farm Bill That Protects and Preserves SNAP

Last week, House and Senate conferees released a bipartisan Conference Report on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2; also known as the “Farm Bill”), to reauthorize U.S. farm policies and programs as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Following the release of the conference report, the bill was passed in the Senate by a vote of 87-13 and in the House by a vote of 369-47. In a statement, The Arc’s Senior Executive Officer of Public Policy, Marty Ford, noted, “We are pleased that the version of the bill that was passed rejects cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, which more than 11 million people with disabilities across the United States rely on to help them eat.” Read The Arc’s full statement.

Medicare/LTSS: House and Senate Approve Three-Year MFP Extension​​

Last week, the House and Senate both passed the Improving Medicaid Programs and Opportunities for Eligible Beneficiaries (IMPROVE) Act (H.R.7217). This bill includes reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program for three years. MFP provides grants to states to transition people from institutions to community-based settings. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program has helped over 63,000 people transition into the community and has saved Medicare and Medicaid almost $1 billion as of 2013. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP. Additionally, the bill extends Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections for Home and Community Based Services beneficiaries for three months. The spousal impoverishment protection allows the spouse of a Medicaid Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) beneficiary to maintain a modest amount of income and resources for food, rent, and medication. The bill now awaits President Trump’s signature.

Health Care: Federal Judge Rules that Health Care Law Is Unconstitutional​

On December 14, a federal judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional as a result of the provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that removed the penalty for individuals who do not purchase health insurance. The ruling further argued that the entire law was invalid because the provision requiring people to purchase health insurance was unconstitutional. The decision is likely to be appealed and the law remains in place as the case makes its way through the judicial process. The decision came the day before open enrollment ended in most states. It is estimated that, if the decision stands, more than 17 million people would lose health insurance. Many of the law’s most popular provisions would end, including the protections for people with pre-existing conditions, allowing parents to cover their children until age 26, eliminating annual and lifetime limits on coverage, and other provisions. The ACA provides many critical protections for people with disabilities and The Arc will continue to support the law.

Major Events Ahead

Budget & Appropriations: Congress Facing Funding Deadline This Week

Congress has until midnight on Friday, December 21 to wrap up seven of the 12 outstanding appropriations bills in order to avoid a partial government shutdown. Funding could lapse for the Departments of Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and others if a deal is not reached to fund these agencies. It appears that the main stumbling block is the amount of funding for the border wall with Mexico. Agencies poised to lose funding would develop their own plans for a shutdown, detailing which government activities are put on hold and which employees are considered “essential” and continue working.

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