State Senator Daniel Biss (D — Evanston) announced today that he will present a bill to allow vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities to retain essential care. Without action from the Senate, substantial and detrimental changes to state-provided in-home and long-term care may be on the way under a new plan proposed by the governor. His proposal would force tens of thousands of older adults and adults with disabilities out of their homes and into costly nursing home facilities. 

To determine service eligibility for programs, such as home health assistance, state agencies use a Determination of Need (DON) score. This numerical tool is designed to assess the level and type of need in order to provide the best and most efficient care to older adults and persons with disabilities.

The governor’s proposal raises the threshold Illinoisans would need in order to receive care. With these changes in place, the minimum score to qualify for assistance would increase from 29 to 37. People currently eligible with scores between 29 and 37 would lose the services they currently rely on to get from one day to the next. In addition to the harm this would cause Illinois families, we would also see the cost to the state skyrocket, because in-home care costs much less than nursing home services.

The Senate plans to take floor action this week to maintain the current threshold of 29. 

“I look forward to presenting legislation to retain the DON score threshold at 29, and I hope all my colleagues will join me in rejecting Governor Rauner’s reckless action. The governor is cutting much more than hypothetical dollars from the budget with his plan,” said State Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston), chair of the Human Services Committee. “He is cutting a lifeline for thousands of seniors and disabled Illinoisans who often rely on minimal and inexpensive services to ensure their basic health and safety. If we raise the threshold for assistance, we lower our standard of living. Taking away these services also increases the cost to the state. This is a lose-lose situation.”