Below are some highlights from the week!
- AHCA Passes in the House: 7 Republicans Voted Yes; 11 Democrats Voted No
- Ligas Consent Decree – State Asks for More Time to Respond
- Arc Leaders meet with HFS Regarding the Medicaid Managed Care Request for Proposals
- Arc Leaders meet with Deputy Governor Munger
- Arc Leaders Testify Against Governor’s Proposed FY18 DHS Budget
- Arc Convention a Success – Check out photos on The Arc of Illinois Facebook page.
AHCA Passes in the House: 7 Republicans Voted Yes; 11 Democrats Voted No
Thank you to everyone who called and called and called to try to get through the House switchboard and raise their voice against the American Health Care Act. I know it is hard not be discouraged, but the fight is not over. All our advocacy and storytelling has educated both Illinois representatives and many of their constituents and is making a difference. Although the 7 Republican House members from Illinois voted to support the bill, we will keep fighting. This fight moves to Senate but before we switch focus, please consider doing the following:
- Thank your House member if they voted no over email or phone, facebook or twitter.
- If your House member voted yes, please email, call, facebook or tweet to them your disappointment. You can say something like: “We are so disappointed that Rep. ___ supported a bill, which will cut Medicaid so significantly and hurt so many people with disabilities in Illinois. We hope that the Representative reconsiders his position and supports Medicaid going forward.”
- Next week the House is on recess so members will be home. If you feel brave (or angry), you can stop by many offices to also give your message in person. I will let you know if I hear of any town hall meetings during that time.
The Senate is expected to begin considering this bill immediately and could potentially vote on something before the Memorial Day Recess. It is widely expected that there will be significant changes to bill as a number of Republican Senators have said they were not happy with the AHCA. The Congressional Budget Office also did not have time to score the bill that passed so we expect that to come as well. The bill will go through the reconciliation process in order to avoid needing 60 votes in the Senate. However, this means that the law can only contain elements that affect the federal budget so many policy issues in the Affordable Care Act cannot be repealed that way.
Once you have rested, next week, here are some things we all can do:
- We need to arm our Senators with stories of why this bill is so bad for people with disabilities and our families.
- We need to keep calling the Governor, who released a statement today indicating his “deep concern” around this bill. It would be devastating to Illinois and we need him to say that!
- Think of all your friends and family who live in states with Senators who can be influenced and begin educating them on why they need to call their Senators to oppose AHCA. Use your network and arm them with your personal story! Here is an article about some of the key Republican Senators to watch.
Thank you again for all your work!
In other news!
Ligas Consent Decree – State Asks for More Time to Respond
The state asked for an additional 67 days to respond to the plaintiffs motion to enforce the decree. The judge ruled that they could have 45 additional days so instead of May, the state has until June 23 with the plaintiffs having an opportunity to respond to the state’s submission by July 7. The judge has indicated that she will rule soon after that. If the judge finds for the plaintiff, she can require the state to increase its commitment to providing services and moving people off the waiting list. She could even rule around quality and adequacy of the workforce. More to come!
Arc Leaders meet with HFS Regarding the Medicaid Managed Care Request for Proposals
HFS released a new Medicaid Managed Care Request for Proposal indicating they were looking to decrease the number of managed care organizations from 11 to 4-7 and make them statewide. MCOs are submitting applications later this month and it will take most of the summer to assessment and award the bids. However, in the RFP, it indicated that children who are medically fragile would be placed in managed care (currently they are in the fee for service system mostly). It also referenced that MCOs applying would need to be able to move to “Phase III” in 180 days of taking on the contract January 1, 2018. Phase III is the phase in which home and community based LTSS services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities would move into managed care. Obviously the Arc was very concerned. We met with Robert Mendonsa, Deputy Administrator for HFS, who is overseeing the RFP process. He assured us that the administration had no plans to move adults into Medicaid Managed Care any time soon and it was just in the RFP as a matter of course. We reiterated our concerns about moving LTSS for the IDD community into managed care, and he indicated that if they even thought about moving to phase III they would include us and other stakeholders in the process.
We also talked about children who are medically fragile. Here is what he said: HFS has submitted a waiver to be able to put these kids ONLY in Medicaid managed care without an option to opt out to fee for serve. We expressed our concern with this. These kids would continue to have a choice of more than one provider (unless they are in foster care – then there will only be one provider). He indicated that they are working on adjusting upward payment rates and easing processes for medical providers so there would be more options and network adequacy would be improved. He was very open to convening the MCOs once they are chosen to meet with advocacy groups concerned about this issue to ensure a smooth transition of this population. We would expect that this group as well as all new populations to Medicaid managed care would move in April 2018. He was also very open to continuing to meet to problem solve around the lack of education and support for parents around case management and other things. Conversation will continue.
Arc Leaders meet with Deputy Governor Munger
Arc leaders met with Deputy Governor Munger to talk with her about her role as liason to the human services system. The Deputy Governor has a good background in the IDD world. She serves on the board of the Riverdale? Foundation? Which has a number of different kind of home and community-based services. She was very interested in how we can look at the allocation of the dollars in the IDD world and make smart decisions about spending. We talked about opportunities for the Governor and her to lead on HCBS as well as the possibility of a task force to work on these issues.
Arc Leaders Testify Against Governor’s Proposed FY18 DHS Budget
Meg Cooch, Executive Director of the Arc of Illinois, and Kimberly Johnson-Evans, mom and Ligas Family Advocate, testified as a House Human Services Appropriations hearing on the FY18 DHS budget. They stressed the need to rebalance funding to focus on home and community-based services, the need for a wage increase for direct support professionals and the funding of grant programs including Life Span, The Autism Program, and Best Buddies.
Arc Convention a Success – Check out photos on The Arc of Illinois Facebook page.
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423