Today I am at our 11th Annual QIDP Leadership Conference in Alsip which was sold out!Monday, Phil and I met with Senator Christine Radogno to discuss Medicaid Reform, Rebalancing and sponsoring Arc Transition legislation. It was an excellent meeting.

Tony, Senator Radogno & Phil Milsk

Included in this Update:
1.     Upcoming Arc Conferences
2.     Important Legislative Dates
3.     Illinois Exchange to Open
4.     Inaugural Address Includes “child with a disability.”
5.     The Rights of Students with Disabilities to Participate in School Sports
6.     Medicaid Annual Medical Card Change
7.     Letters to Editor on Havens for Disabled Adults
Upcoming Arc Conferences
The Arc of Illinois & Executive Forum Leadership Conference, Feb 7-8,2013
From Segregated to Customized: The Shift to Personalized Employment & Individualized Job Development, Tinley Park Convention Center, March 5, 2013.
The Arc of Illinois Annual Convention, Lisle Hilton, April 24-25, 2013

Important Legislative Dates

State of the State Address – February 6, 2013
Governor’s Budget Address – March 6, 2013

Illinois Exchange to Open

The Illinois Health Marketplace (the new name for the Exchange under the Affordable Care Act) will be open for enrollment on 10/01/13. Coverage will start on January 1, 2014. The Health Marketplace will be an excellent option for medical insurance for individuals, small groups and another option for organizations to get good coverage for reasonable rates. More to come as the Affordable Care Act begins to roll out in Illinois.

Inaugural Address by President Barack Obama

It was a nice surprise to hear President Obama mention parents of children with disabilities in his inaugural address.  In case you missed it:
“We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.   For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.”

The full inaugural address can be found at

The Rights of Students with Disabilities to Participate in School Sports

Last week the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued guidance clarifying school districts’ legal obligations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities.  According to a Department press release, the guidance also urges school districts to work with community organizations to increase athletic opportunities for students with disabilities.

According to the guidance, schools should make reasonable modifications to allow athletic participation for students with disabilities (e.g., the allowance of a visual cue alongside a starter pistol to allow a student with a hearing impairment to participate in the track team, if he/she is fast enough to qualify).  The guidance clarifies that the law does not require that a student with a disability be allowed to participate in any selective or competitive athletic program, so long as the selection or competition criteria are not discriminatory.  In some cases, schools may be required to set up alternative teams for students with disabilities, such as a wheelchair basketball league.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan posted a blog entry about the guidance.

Medicaid Annual Medical Card Change

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services is transitioning from issuing monthly medical cards to annual paper medical cards. During the next month all currently eligible Medical Program participants will begin to receive in the mail a new paper medical card along with an instructional brochure. HFS medical cards will then be issued following a person’s annual redetermination. Providers will be required to verify eligibility for each date of service. The LINK HERE attached one page flyer is for providers to use as a tool to inform their staff of the upcoming changes. An additional Provider Notice with further details regarding changes to the medical card will be issued in the near future.

Letters to the Editor on Tribune Story “Havens for Disabled Adults.”

Congratulations to the Schurs and other families in Illinois for their efforts to create housing and service opportunities for people with disabilities (Havens for disabled adults, Chicago Tribune, January 23).  Their story, while triumphant, underscores the barriers that people with disabilities face in Illinois.  Without affordable, accessible housing options and community based supports, thousands of people, who could thrive in the community, are forced to live in institutions. 
Recognizing the positive impact of community living, Governor Quinn has stepped up for people with disabilities by transferring long term care resources from institutional settings to the community. This shift encompasses the closure of large, outdated state-run facilities that segregate people with disabilities. One downstate institution has closed and the Murray Developmental Center is slated to close later this year. This shift in philosophy will give thousands of people with physical, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities the opportunity to maximize their potential by providing them with the freedom to live among family and friends and (as the article notes) offer a higher quality of life. 
The transition will face challenges. But in the name of equality, independence and self-determination, thousands of people with disabilities across Illinois are ready for the challenge.  Just as the families in this article found a way to make it happen, I am confident that we can all pull together to make community living a reality for the thousands of people in institutions. 
Gary Arnold
Access Living Chicago
I was thrilled to read the story (Havens for disabled adults, Chicago Tribune, January 23) about Josh Schur and his new roommates! Stories like Josh and other adults who have lived in state facilities and now live in the community have taught us that there is a better way.  Adults with disabilities who do not have parents like the Schur’s to blaze the trail to freedom must rely on those of us that now know better. 
The living situation in Illinois for many people with disabilities is disheartening to say the least.  Last year Governor Quinn announced his rebalancing initiative in an effort to give people with disabilities the chance to live their ultimate life in their own community.  Since the initiative began one state institution has closed and another is slated for closure this year.  The benefits of those people with disabilities now living in the community are many. Being able to choose what you have for dinner or being able to decorate your own room may seem small to those who have always had that right; however, watching someone’s eyes light up when they describe what it was like to pick out their own bedspread and decorations makes it very clear that what we take for granted is life changing for someone experiencing this for the first time. 
For too long in Illinois people with disabilities have been segregated in large state facilities. For many years it was because we did not know any better.  We now know that there is a better way, an ultimate life for people with disabilities, a life in their community, a life that, with the support of the people of the State of Illinois, is available to each of them.
Leanne Roth
SouthSTAR Services


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