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Illinois Budget Cuts Could End In-Home Care for Thousands

PHOTO: The Community Care Program program provides in-home services that allow older Illinoisans to age independently at home, a more economical option than a nursing care facility. The program is facing $140 million in cuts under Governor Bruce Rauner's budget proposal. Photo credit: myfuturedotcom/Flickr.
PHOTO: The Community Care Program program provides in-home services that allow older Illinoisans to age independently at home, a more economical option than a nursing care facility. The program is facing $140 million in cuts under Governor Bruce Rauner's budget proposal. Photo credit: myfuturedotcom/Flickr.
May 14, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - An estimated 39,000 Illinoisans could be forced to turn to nursing home care due to cuts proposed in the governor's budget. The plan would slash $140 million to the Community Care Program, which provides in-home care and services that allow older residents to age independently.

Carol Aronson, executive director with the Shawnee Alliance for Seniors, says most Illinoisans want to stay in their homes where they are connected to their loved ones and community.

"There is absolutely a time and a need for many people to go to the nursing home," says Aronson. "But if what a person needs is someone to cook meals for them, someone to do their shopping, someone to manage their money, we can do that in the home, it does not require a nursing home."

The budget proposal would raise the minimum determination of need for entry into the program, establish a maximum income for eligibility and reduce the service hours per week.

Aronson says that would mean 38 percent more older adults may not qualify for services, which would result in increased emergency room visits, hospital re-admissions and premature placement in nursing homes.

Lawmakers are trying to plug a $1.6 billion budget gap, but Aronson says cuts to the Community Care Program are not the answer. When it comes down to dollars and cents, Aronson says in-home services are a cost-effective way to care for the state's increasing aging population.

"The Community Care Program, the average cost of care is right around $800 a month, whereas the average cost of care in the nursing home ranges from $3,500 to $5,000," she says.

The governor's proposal also changes the requirements for admission into a nursing home. Aronson says those who do not meet the criteria could end up relying on local emergency services for aid or face isolation with unknown consequences for health, safety and well-being. She adds it could also place an additional burden on loved ones. Lawmakers must approve the budget by July 1.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL