Aging population prompts call for Community Care changes
A plan to redesign Illinois’ Community Care Program has sparked controversy, with Gov. Bruce Rauner arguing that it is necessary to curtail the costs of a growing elderly populations and detractors arguing that it could cost the state more in the long run.
The Community Care Program has been in place for nearly four decades, allowing senior citizens to stay in their own homes with the assistance of caregivers, according to a report from the Better Government Association (BGA). The program currently helps 84,000 seniors, approximately 51,000 of whom are covered by Medicaid. If kept in its current form, the plan threatens to grow in costs by $391 million in five years, the Rauner Administration has said. Rauner's plan would cut $120 million of that by transitioning the 33,000 seniors not covered by Medicaid to a scaled-back version of the plan.
The redesign would still help seniors access food and laundry services but would no longer pay home-care aides to provide the services. Instead, seniors would get vouchers for local restaurants and Uber trips. A laundry service would be used for many seniors, or they would get help moving washers and dryers to more convenient living areas.
Opponents of the plan argue that it could lead to seniors going into nursing homes sooner, defeating the purpose of the Community Care Program. While each senior currently on the program incurs approximately $839 in costs for the state, those in nursing homes incur triple that, according to the BGA.