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Senior-care providers warn of dire effects from budget shortfalls

From Illinois Business Journal news services

ALTON – Senior Services Plus Associate Executive Director Theresa Collins and a recipient of the agency’s in-home services, Kathleen Andrews, traveled to Springfield this week to testify in front of the Illinois House of Representatives about the effects of having no budget or reduced budget for Fiscal Year 16 in the Community Care Program.

Collins, who also is the vice president for the Illinois Association of Community Care Program, provided opening remarks Tuesday on behalf of Senior Services Plus.

“As the budget uncertainty continues, providers of the Community Care Program will try to continue to provide services to the clients until there are no longer funds available. The Department on Aging has indicated to some that we need to continue to provide services through the budget impasse and that we will be paid retroactively from July 1st once a budget is in place, but we know that depends on what budget is passed, what money is available and Administration’s willingness to spend that money.”

Collins spoke about the severity of the entire state of Illinois budget situation, adding that budget shortfalls “cannot be done on the backs of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Do we truly want to be responsible for co-signing death certificates?”

Andrews spoke about the potential effects and the successes the Community Care Program has had on her life since 2002. Andrews is 80 and lives independently in her home in Granite City. She worked more than 15 years as a Licensed Practical Nurse at nursing home facilities and hospitals primarily dealing with senior citizens.

During her testimony, Andrews stated, “I don’t know what I would do without the care and help from my home care aide. She helps me with bathing, preparing my food, and taking me to my doctor’s appointments.”

Currently, Andrews’ Determination of Needs (DON) score is 34 and receives three days (two hours per day) a week of service. With the proposed changes to the DON score, Andrews would no longer qualify for the Community Care Program and would be left to enter a nursing home or struggle to maintain an independent lifestyle in her home with no assistance.

Senior Services Plus has said that if a budget is not put in place soon, senior citizens living throughout the state of Illinois will suffer and be forced into life-threatening situations.

“We encourage all legislators and the Governor to come to a resolution with the budget in a manner that avoids these conditions at all costs,” the agency said in a statement.

Senior Services Plus is a not-for-profit organization that has been serving the Metro East Community since 1973. The organization provides Meals On Wheels, In-Home Care, Travel, Information & Assistance, and a Wellness Center. The agency is located at 2603 N. Rodgers Ave. in Alton.


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