This morning I went to a "Meet & Greet" with Senator Bill Haine
& Representative Dan Beiser
, only Representative Beiser
wasn't there and promised to reschedule. During the Q & A, I had opportunity to discuss the following with Senator Haine
: Nursing homes are critical for persons in need of nursing care. But sadly, there are many people in nursing homes who do not need nursing care. Instead they are there because they need housing. It costs thousands of dollars more per person
for someone to live in a nursing home than to live in community based housing with supportive services. What is your office and the Illinois General Assembly was doing to transition persons who are able to live in the community from nursing homes into community based housing?
: (He looked through his papers before answering my question.) This year we made a 20% increase to the community care program which has federal matching dollars. I don't know if those federal dollars will still be there, but that's what we've done.AJ
: That's an increase to a program, but what is being done to actually transition people?
: I really don't know.AJ
: Well, here's what's being done to transition some people. The Williams v. Quinn implementation plan will assist some people in moving. The Ligas
case will have an implementation plan developed to assist some people in moving and the federal government has found that states are not meeting with this ADA requirement.
: We're not there.AJ
: We're not there, yet
. Perhaps if we spent our money on community based housing instead of more costly nursing homes the state might be able to pay some of its bills and we would have a better economy.
: We're doing pretty good in this local area. We have Conoco
and the levies. I don't know what else to say.AJ
: I don't know what else to say either. Last Thursday, I met a Mother of four beautiful children who just had her power shut off. As I left the facility I met a Veteran who was sleeping in his car. It was 103 degrees last Thursday. Yesterday, I got a phone call from someone who had no place to live. The flyer
for today advertised that you were here to talk about "how Illinois is recovering from economic and budget crisis" but we are not in recovery. We are in convulsions!
: There are services out there. There's the Veterans Assistance Commission. There's the Booth House and other shelters.AJ
: The shelters are all full.
: There's always going to be someone who is left out. We're doing what we can.AJ
: I shared information about the Veteran's Assistance Commission with the gentleman sleeping in his car. I also took his phone number to follow up with him the next day. I have called him twice and there is no answer. I hope he's alive.
: I hope he is too.AJ
: Thank you.
The reactions to the Senator were interesting. When one individual brought up the "Green Bill" three persons actually left the group shaking their heads after hearing the Senator's comments. When it was over, a gentleman came up to me and started telling me how he is about to default on two loans because he can't get a job. When I asked him if the Senator had earned his vote today, he said "Unfortunately, there is no other Democratic candidate on the ballot." As I was waiting in line to speak with the Senator, the gentleman ahead of me was encouraging Senator Haine
to run for office of President of the United States. Then it was my turn to shake his hand and speak with him individually.
: Thank you for your comments and your good questions today.AJ
: I emailed you a link with information from the U.S. Department of Justice about independent living for persons in nursing homes. I used the address printed in the state guide and the email got kicked back to me.
: The email address has changed. Let me give you my new email.AJ
: Thank you. Maybe you can explain something to me. Why is it that you aren't jumping on the opportunity to save the state some money by transitioning people from nursing homes into community based housing?
: The trick is to determine who these people are. We don't have the funds to staff finding these people.
At that point, I transitioned into talking with one of his staff members to get his email address and to set an appointment to meet with him at a later date. Reflecting on this morning, I'm having trouble digesting what I have just witnessed. I have trouble accepting that our local economy is recovering when I talk with people almost every day who aren't getting their basic needs met. It makes me wonder who is benefiting in this economy. I have trouble accepting that "we're doing what we can" when not all is being done to integrate persons with accessibility needs into local communities which are more affordable options. But the Senator didn't appear to be interested in protecting the civil rights of persons with accessibility needs and saving our state money by doing so. His remark "The trick is to determine who these people are" demonstrated a subtle willingness to allow a challenge to become a definitive
answer for violating the ADA and the Olmstead
decision. Yes, obstacles should be discussed...but it should be done in the context of OVERCOMING
obstacles, not allowing them to prevent adherence to the law.
I am still left wondering WHY
he wouldn't want to explore an opportunity to save the state some money by transitioning people from nursing homes into community based housing. It is the best ethical, legal and financial action that can be taken. Perhaps he will explain this to me when we meet in person.