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My View: Proposed change in senior care is yet another government fantasy

It’s a promise that seems too good to be true. For tens of thousands of seniors in Illinois, the stakes are too high for it to be yet another government fantasy.

The Illinois Department of Aging is moving ahead this summer to bypass the General Assembly with rules to implement its proposed Community Reinvestment Program, intended to replace the Community Care Program. For nearly 40 years, Illinois has provided services – health monitoring, personal care and meals – to tens of thousands of seniors who aren’t ready to enter more extensive nursing home care but need some help to remain living on their own.

The Rauner administration has decided Illinois simply spends too much money on caring for more than 30,000 seniors in CCP who are not covered by Medicaid, and has developed this plan to provide “flexible” services instead of the regular home care they receive now. Department officials, in several hours of testimony before the House Aging Committee and in media interviews, insist they can save the state $120 million and help these seniors receive services better targeted to meet their needs.

Sounds great, right? Has the Department really found the “doing more with less” formula that is so elusive in public policy?

I don’t believe so, and I’m not alone. AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association of Illinois, SEIU Healthcare and many local experts, who provide care to seniors every day around the state, are coming together to oppose the department’s proposed Community Reinvestment Program. There are too many questions about how the program will save money and provide critical care to our elderly.

At our initial hearing on this shift in direction in Springfield earlier this year, one senior care advocate said the proposed transition is personal as his mother is one of the non-Medicaid seniors who would be affected.

“The CCP program does breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday for her. The Department is doing no justice to the many moms and grandmas around the state,” Mike Egbert said tearfully.

There are hundreds of seniors whose services could be cut in every legislative district around the state. In some districts in and around Chicago, more than 1,000 seniors rely on CCP every day. Where will they turn when $120 million in services goes away?

We need to do a more thorough review of our existing senior care plans to make sure we are running them as efficiently and effectively as possible. But the answer is not creating a new program, moving to implement it through a small legislative rules oversight committee and putting at risk the care of thousands of seniors that could cost all of us much more.

Join me in urging the governor to move away from his plans to cut funding and services that are so important to the elderly in our state, and let’s get back to a real conversation about supporting our parents, grandparents and seniors everywhere live full and independent lives.

Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, is chairwoman of the  House Aging Committee.

Article source: http://www.rrstar.com/opinion/20170610/my-view-proposed-change-in-senior-care-is-yet-another-government-fantasy

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