New leadership in the White House and in Congress always means different ideas and viewpoints for how we conduct the country’s business. But an election doesn’t change the needs that regular people have. We know from experience that the challenges people face today are the very same challenges we faced yesterday, and won’t change because of an election.
A new administration means changes, and we are ready to work with policymakers to mitigate the impact of change on our constituency. We will be using all of the tools at our disposal to make sure that people with complex health needs and disabilities have a voice – whatever systems of care we put in place.
On September 16, we partnered with the Institute for Therapy through the Arts to host an Experiential Learning Conference in Evanston, Illinois. The conference presented a daylong set of hands-on workshops to help participants understand why art and alternative therapies are so effective for people who experienced trauma.
There were about 50 attendees including ITA staff. They included social workers, counselors, and alternative therapy counselors. All have either worked with a client or currently work with clients experiencing some form of trauma.
Last Friday afternoon, Governor Rauner took his hatchet to two important pieces of legislation that would have insured vital social supports for some of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens. He vetoed HB 5931, which would have guaranteed a $15/hour wage to those who care for people with developmental disabilities, and SB 730, which would have expanded child care for low-income families.
To be fair, the Governor did acknowledge the importance of these services and the sacrifices of those who provide them. But, in the end, he justified the vetoes by saying the State is broke and the bills didn’t provide a funding mechanism. In other words, no child care without a bake sale to pay for it.
The liquidation of Land of Lincoln Health is just the first of mounting hurdles for Illinois consumers and small-business owners shopping for health insurance coverage in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
Not only do Illinois consumers wait longer than others across the country to see annual rate increases, but they also have fewer resources to help navigate the marketplace. The state’s budget morass means the two state agencies charged with protecting consumer interests and helping consumers connect with coverage options—the Department of Insurance and Get Covered Illinois—are underfunded and ill-prepared to serve the public.
As recently as the presidential election of 2000, we learned how important a few hundred thousand votes could be. The nationwide gap between candidates totaled just 543,895 votes. According to a recent Stanford Law School study, Contemporary Voting Rights Controversies Through the Lens of Disability, the actual number of potential voters not casting their ballot due to a disability may be five times that number – over 3 million votes not cast in every election for myriad reasons, but primarily because of the lack of accommodation for a disability.
“If you wanted to go anywhere you had to plan ahead, even if it was just to the drugstore. Participating in society – going to a theatre, a restaurant – everything was hit or miss.”
That’s Carol Gill, remembering life before the Americans with Disabilities Act, which turned 25 years old this month.
“You went into a store,” she recalls, “and the aisles were too narrow. And people would give you a ‘dull look’ when you’d point out the aisles were not accessible.”
Illinois just dodged a bullet with the outcome of King v. Burwell. If the Supreme Court had ruled against subsidies being challenged in the case, working people and families in the state collectively would have lost more than $49 million a month to help purchase health insurance.
In its decision, the court affirmed the legality of the provision of premium tax credits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in all states, whether they established their own health insurance marketplace or used the federal marketplace. Continue reading “Illinois Dodges Disaster on Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling”
“I never know what to say to the families,” the general said. He was a four-star general in charge of a large Air Force base. But he was – as so of us many are – stumped by this simple human problem: what words to speak when confronted with a wife or husband or parent or a sibling of a service member who had lost their life. And I said, “General, it’s really pretty simple. Use their names. If you know the name, say ’Tell me something about ___.’ And then shut up. And listen.”
The person recalling this is Jim Frazier, a Gold Star dad who works with the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services program. Since losing his own son in Afghanistan, Jim has spent more than a decade helping families of military casualties.
“One of the premises I start with” in working with bereaved families, he says, is that “all we have is memories. People we’ve lost live in our memories, and that way in our hearts.”
HDA and the Chicago Department of Public Health have partnered to create a new initiative that hopes to maximize the health benefits and services that Chicago hospitals can bring to their communities.
Under the Affordable Care Act, charitable nonprofit hospitals are required to conduct community health Needs assessments and to implement community health improvement plans. The collaborative hopes to help hospitals better improve services for the populations they serve by working together and with other partners to implement plans that address common priorities identified in their assessments.
The much-anticipated “turnaround budget” from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner feels more like a “look back,” parading out failed ideas from past years. Rauner says this budget “preserves services to the state’s most vulnerable residents”—but a quick review suggests this is far from true. Instead, we see a budget that:
• Further decimates a fragile community mental health system
• Reduces access to lifesaving drugs for people living with HIV and prevention services for those at risk of HIV
• De-funds critical substance-abuse treatments
Continue reading “Rauner’s Budget is Bad Medicine for State’s Health Services”