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Public Policy Reporting Class

Essay by   •  September 18, 2010  •  1,355 Words (6 Pages)  •  2,065 Views

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Pending approval from the General Assembly, the funding for older Illinoisans will receive nearly an eight percent increase in the fiscal year 2001 budget for the Illinois Department on Aging.

The state's portion of the overall spending is $234.9 million and funds the Department's Community Care program at $205 million. The program provides senior citizens with home care services, adult day services and custodial care.

The eight percent increase is drastically needed according to Carol Aronson, spokesperson for the Shawnee Alliance for seniors.

"Senior programs are underpaid compared to the services of Department of Children and Family Services with a much lower rate of funds for seniors, even with an eight percent increase," Aronson said.

An additional $7 million has been allocated to the Elder Abuse and Neglect Program, an increase of 11 percent. Community based agencies will be able to respond to over 8,600 reports of abuse and neglect, which account for a projected increase. The Elder abuse reports have been on the rise every year, prompting Gov. Ryan to also respond to the problem by forming a new Elder Abuse Task Force.

The Illinois Department on Aging's Elder Abuse and Neglect Program responds to all reports of abuse of people age 60 and older. The program provides investigation, intervention and follow-up services to victims. Reports are increasing about 10 percent a year, as the older population grows and awareness of the problem increases.

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"The spring session was certainly fruitful for all Illinois seniors," said Illinois Department on Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber.

"The budget will help the Illinois Department on Aging fulfill its mission, and we are grateful to the Governor and legislators for their diligent work in addressing the needs and quality of life for the seniors in our state."

While the bill awaits approval, a similar proposal for seniors, the 100 percent campaign, has been passed and is a working success according to Susan Patterson, field coordinator for the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging, Inc.

Specifically, Senate Bill 677, increased access to the state's Medicaid program for those whose income is less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or $687 a month. Currently, the eligibility is set at $308 a month, or 47 percent of the federal poverty level. Through the 100 percent plan, in July 2000 the 47 percent income threshold will jump to 70 percent of the federal poverty level, which will change their income by an additional $184. In July 2001, that level will rise again to 85 percent and by July 2002 will be at 100 percent.

"The problem with the way the system was, it depended on the income you had, the worst part was that you had to spend down if you were slightly over the $308," Patterson said.

The other factor involved is that through the Community Care program, less money is used by the state to fund a stay in the nursing home. Many of these people go to the day care during the day and go home with their families at night Patterson said.

"It is much cheaper to take care of them this way."

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"The funding directed to case management shows the Governor is deeply committed to the mission of the Community Care Program. It has been an extraordinary year for all Illinoisans, marked by the approval of a $48 billion state budget that includes $350 million in tax relief," said Schreiber. "The Governor and legislators also focused heavily on promoting the quality of life for seniors in our state."

As a result of the Tobacco Settlement an additional $1 million has been allocated to the Department to provide public outreach to inform seniors about the expansion of the Circuit Breaker/ Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, which helps low-income seniors pay for prescription medications.

Ryan signed House Bill 3872 to put those standards in to law during a ceremony with the bill's chief legislative sponsors and supporters including representatives from American Association of Retired Persons, social security coalition, pharmaceutical companies and disability groups. House Bill 3872 provides an increase in the eligibility levels for the circuit breaker program to save taxpayers $35 million in each of the next three years.

The program expansion, which Gov. Ryan just signed Monday, will allow an additional 180,000 seniors some assistance. The bill raised the income level for a two-person household to $28,480, while single people can earn up to $21,218 and be eligible for the program, according to Maureen Squires, spokesperson for the Department on Aging.

"This program is based for the most vulnerable seniors," Squires said

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In addition to the rise in the income threshold, the prescription drugs that were available have also been expanded to include Parkinson's disease, lung disease, cancer, glaucoma and Alzheimer's disease. Seniors enrolled in the circuit breaker program pay an annual fee and a monthly deductible for the prescription coverage. The new law raised the annual



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