Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has tweaked legislation aimed at preventing the administration from making it harder for seniors and people with disabilities to qualify for home services programs. Rauner's changes to the legislation were made Friday via an amendatory veto.
"These bills may be well-intentioned, but they are ultimately harmful to the programs they are trying to help," reads a statement from Lance Trover, a Rauner spokesman. "The governor understands and shares the frustration of members who want to fund these programs, but the appropriate way to do so is in the context of a truly balanced budget."
Rauner has proposed raising the minimum eligibility, or "Determination of Need (DON)," score from 29 to 37 for programs that connect seniors and people with disabilities to personal attendants who can assist them at their homes, among other services. The legislation passed by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly sought to keep the DON score at 29.
Under Rauner's amendatory veto, the DON score would stay at 29. However, he included a provision under which qualified program recipients could receive either community- or institution-based care, but not both.
The administration says the changes would cut spending on costlier institution-based care.
Democratic lawmakers are reviewing the administration's amendatory veto and considering their next steps. The General Assembly could move to accept, reverse or take no action on the governor's changes.
"I think that we have to be very careful that seniors and very frail people are not put at risk," bill sponsor state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) told the Chicago Tribune. "It looks like they are trying to set up different classifications for seniors and different classifications for people with disabilities."
UPDATE 1 (4:41 p.m.): The Rauner administration announced Monday that it has dropped its plan to increase the Determination of Need (DON) score from 29 to 37.
"The withdrawal of our plans renders the stated intention of HB 2482 moot and will allow us to avoid the legislation's unintended consequences," Rauner wrote in a letter to state Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) about the administration's move to drop the DON score proposal.
SEIU* Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher issued the following statement upon news that the administration is withdrawing its plan to increase the DON score:
As with child care, home healthcare for vulnerable people in Illinois will remain under the sword of Bruce Rauner until and unless his power to do harm is offset. Therefore, we urge that legislators vote for House Bill 2482 when they convene Tuesday and protect seniors and people with disabilities from ever being used as political pawns. This is not a time for celebration: We should never have gotten to this point in the first place.
* The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.