Battle over changes to Senior Care

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Springfield- AARP is coming out against proposed changes to the Department of Aging's senior care program. They are calling on the department to halt the Community Reinvestment Program. 

The Community Reinvestment Program (CRP) was proposed in the FY2018 budget, claiming to save the state $120 million dollars by making changes to the current Community Care Program (CCP). AARP is saying that the CRP program will have negative consequences on the seniors it covers. "It is significantly going to reduce services, when they put that in the Governor's budget book that service cost per month is going to be way down, but they are adding services to the books and this combination just does not make sense." said Ryan Gruenefelder, Manager of Advocacy and Outreach for AARP. 

Proponents of the CRP are saying that the level of care will remain the same. "This program will be more targeted, better for the seniors who need the services and will save money and from a budgetary perspective that's what Republicans and Democrats are saying that we need to save money." said Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon). 

AARP believes that outsourcing and changing service providers for many of the seniors currently on CCP will cause the care to diminish, ultimately forcing seniors into nursing homes. "People will be put at risk of elder abuse and background checks are not apart of the Community Reinvestment Program, and there are other services out there that aren't even going to be used because seniors might not be able to carry their laundry to the door.  Or they may not be able to get out of their house and get into a vehicle, for their transportation rather than some of the other services through the Community Care Program, where everyone is trained, and trained well on how to do these services." said Gruenefelder. "There are serious concerns that this proposal is going to be able to continue to keep people out of a nursing home that need to be. I know that is not the Department of Aging's intention, they want to protect the clients too but the way things are written we are just concerned it is going to cause problems they are not anticipating."

The Department of Aging believes that by adding CRP, it is only going to streamline and make the current program more cost effective, while providing the same amount of care. "It's just a change of business. We have been doing this practice for 30 years, and it has been very effective but as time changes so do services so we are putting these  services in places that really meet the needs of the senior. So where as someone who is home helping a senior do their laundry may spend five hours they could possibly do their laundry themselves by bringing their washer and dryer upstairs or contracting that out in a very safe manor." said. Jennifer Reif, Deputy Director of the Department of Aging. 

AARP is also taking issue with the way the CRP is being proposed, instead of introducing this program in the form of a bill, the program is being considered by the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) instead. AARP is claiming that bypassing the legislative process is denying affected seniors and their loved ones true legislative representation. The Department of Aging is defending that claim. "During the JCAR process there is also an open comment period that will allow individuals to ask questions, comments further dialogue so we feel this is a very appropriate way of moving this good policy through." said Reif. 

The Community Reinvestment Program was put into the Department of Aging's FY 2018 budget.

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