I presented this testimony at Wednesday evenings Senate Appropriation Committee meeting. I want to point out that Illinois Waiver for Medically Fragile and Technology Dependent Children is not part of the DHS Budget. We will be expressing our concerns about this important waiver when the Dept of Health Care & Family Services Budget is heard in committee.
March 21, 2012
Arc Testimony of Governor’s Proposed FY’13 DHS Budget
The Governor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 is far from perfect and presents us with many challenges.
The Arc of Illinois supports this proposed budget because of the Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative and the funding of the Ligas Implementation Plan.
Within the Division of Developmental Disabilities, we however, voice our strong objections to cuts to non-Medicaid grants and the third phase of the Integrated Care Pilot which will place all home and community based services under managed care. Another objection is the continued delay in payments to community providers.
Within the Division of Rehabilitation Services, we express strong concerns about eliminating new persons with developmental disabilities from the Home Services Program and increasing eligibility requirements to receive Home Services.
The Arc and other advocates have been calling for the rebalancing of the disability system for many years. We are committed to working with families at the Jacksonville Developmental Center and other state institutions to ensure a safe and meaningful transition into community living. Rebalancing. There is no question that this is a frightening and emotional time for families. We want those living in JDC and their families to know that they are not alone. The Arc is committed to being their partner and offering resources to make this transition comfortable and productive.
We have helped people with the most severe disabilities successfully transition into a community setting, and they are eager to share their experiences and offer support. Yes, a safe transition for individuals who require 24-hour care has already been done in Illinois; and The Arc and its partners are committed to helping more people with disabilities live life in their communities with independence, equality and opportunity. The Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative is a plan that proposes the closing of four state operated developmental centers within the next 2 ½ years. About 600 residents of those centers will be offered the opportunity of freedom within the community. This is a plan The Arc has been asking for many years, and it is similar to the “Illinois Blueprint for System Redesign”.
The plan itself does not call for the closing of all state institutions; rather, it will close four of eight state institutions.
It is a plan that should be a national model for rebalancing. It places the person and/or their guardian at the center of planning for the transition. They will choose where they will live and who they will live with. It will offer them the opportunity to return to their home community if they so choose. Community living options will be two individuals but not more than four living together. Community rates are increased to accommodate individual needs of the person being transitioned. The plan and the closures are being overseen by Community Resource Associates. This is a nationally recognized organization that has worked in many states to assist in the rebalancing of their disability systems.
This past year, the following editorial boards have recommended moving away from institutional services and investing in community services:
Chicago Tribune State Journal Register Pantagraph Rockford Register Star Chicago Sun Times
In Illinois, we have two legislative resolutions calling for rebalancing the developmental disability system:
House Joint Resolution 28 – 2009
Senate & House Joint Resolution 15 – 2011
There are Now14 States Without State-Operated Institutions
District of Columbia (1991)
New Hampshire (1991)
Rhode Island (1994)
New Mexico (1997)
West Virginia (1998)
The Ligas Implementation Plan is another positive step forward with providing real choices about where people want to live and moving people off the state’s waiting list (PUNS).
Ligas will provide the opportunity to move 200 individuals out of Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled into small community living options and day supports. Ligas will also move 800 adults with developmental disabilities off the PUNS waiting list. The Ligas transition is very similar to the Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative especially the person-centered approach that fully involves the individual and/or their guardian.
Both of these initiatives begin to reshape the disability system away from its overreliance on institutions to community-based supports/services.
While we are pleased that 800 people will move off the PUNS waiting list, there will still be over 20,000 on that waiting list. The waiting list must be eliminated.
A major concern within the Division of Developmental Disabilities is the $18.2 million cut to non-Medicaid grants. This represents a 43% cut which would virtually put an end to important services such as Family Assistance Program, UIC Family Clinic, UIC Assistive Technology Unit, all Epilepsy grants, all Dental grants, SIU Telemed grants, and all Respite grants. These same services were slated to be eliminated last year but were fully restored by the General Assembly.
Another major concern is the continued delay in payments to community providers. This budget continues to keep payments about six months behind when the goal should be prompt payment.
Within the Division of Rehabilitation Services, we are deeply concerned about no longer providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities and the elimination of services to children under the age of 18, except for respite care!
We also see a move to restrict eligibility and reduce services for people in Home Services.
While we support this budget, there are important cuts and reductions that need to be restored, and The Arc will work with you to protect important community disability services as we rebalance here in Illinois.