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Budget Cuts Put Illinois Seniors at Risk

  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-02-18 - The state budget released by Governor Quinn will have a devastating impact on thousands of older Illinoisans. For further information pertaining to this article contact: AARP Illinois.

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AARP Concerned About Cuts to Critical Programs; Encouraged by Commitment to Home and Community Services.

The state budget released by Governor Quinn will have a devastating impact on thousands of older Illinoisans. Quinn's budget eliminates funding for property tax relief and a critical pharmaceutical assistance program while also cutting funding for essential home delivered meal programs.

"It is encouraging that the Governor's budget has indicated a commitment to programs and services that allow people to remain in their homes as they age," said Nancy Nelson, Senior Advocacy Manager with AARP Illinois. "However, we are very concerned that cuts to other critical programs, and corresponding policy changes, will result in seniors losing their homes, wondering where their next meal will come from, and losing access to life sustaining medications."

The proposed budget eliminates the Circuit Breaker program - a program that provides property tax relief to over 300,000 seniors across the state and pharmaceutical assistance to approximately 188,000 Illinois seniors. Without the pharmaceutical assistance, these 188,000 seniors will not be able to afford their prescription medications. Many of the 300,000 seniors that currently rely on the Circuit Breaker property tax relief may face losing their homes. The budget also cuts funding for home delivered meals programs and reduces eligibility for the Community Care Program - two programs that are critical to enabling older adults to remain in their homes as they age and avoid more costly institutional placements.

"Governor Quinn made a commitment to adequately fund home and community based services and AARP will fight with the strength of our 1.7 million Illinois members to preserve these critical services," added Nelson. "The final budget simply cannot be balanced by taxing seniors out of their homes, taking food off their tables, and taking away their life sustaining prescription medications."

The Governor's budget reduces eligibility for the Community Care Program to only those individuals who qualify for Medicaid. Approximately 57% of individuals currently receiving services through the Community Care Program do not qualify for Medicaid but could otherwise not afford home care services. While current recipients will be grandfathered into the program, those that would have qualified for the program in the past will be denied access to the vital services they need to survive in their communities and will be forced into more costly institutional settings.

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