I4A Alert

I4A Alert

Illinois Aging Network Alert

A report of the impact of the state budget crisis on Illinois Seniors and Community Programs on Aging, from
I4A - Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Contact:  Jon Lavin 708-383-0258 (Vice Chair), Tracy Barczewski 618-532-1853 (I4A President)

A Turkey for Thanksgiving - FINANCIAL CHALLENGES STILL REMAIN

While the 2018 (Illinois State) budget took positive steps to address the financial challenges faced by the state, there remains a lot of work to do in order to restore solid and long-term financial footing. Therefore, while we remain committed to serving residents of the state of Illinois, we will continue to pursue acquisition opportunities outside of Illinois to further diversify our revenue, with the ultimate goal to reduce our Illinois business to under 35% of consolidated revenue.”,(Addus Homecare CEO Dirk Allison as reported in the Home Healthcare News, 11/9/17).  Addus earlier this year moved its headquarters from Illinois to Frisco, Texas, citing that one of its biggest challenges was the two-year budget impasse which held up tens of millions in Medicaid payments under the Community Care Program.  A strong business climate begins with the respect and support shown to our elders and those with special needs. (https://homehealthcarenews.com/2017/11/addus-aims-to-limit-illinois-exposure/)

Illinois’ financial challenge remains the Aging Network’s major threat. The 13 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and their funded community-based providers last received ANY General Revenue Funds (GRF) in October of 2016 (with the exception of Home Delivered Meals and the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program). That GRF was paid in arrears for SFY16 services which ended June 30, 2016. 

AAAs depend on state General Revenue Fund payments to sustain community services. Time has run out and services can no longer be delivered and reimbursed without State payment.  The community just does not have the cash reserves or lines of credit to sustain the Department on Aging backlog of payments.  The State of Illinois owes the thirteen AAAs over $8.4 million in GRF for services they provided in FY17, which ended on June 30, 2017. That total, as of November 10, includes:

Title III Admin/Service Match                                                       $2.4 million

Community Based Services                                                          $5.2 million                       

Adult Protective Services Support                                               $480,000

Long Term Care Systems Development                                      $227,000

Senior Employment Specialists Program                                    $136,000

While the enactment of the SFY18 budget took positive steps to address financial challenges, to date it has not resulted in payment of any SFY17 General Revenue Funds.  Aging services are critical to keeping your constituents safe and independent in the community.  With older adults living longer, Illinois should be preserving these programs, not destabilizing them!  AAAs and the aging network will always remain committed to serving older adults in Illinois but we cannot continue without payment. 

Distributed for I4A by:

Jonathan Lavin
Chief Executive Officer
AgeOptions
1048 Lake Street
Oak Park, Illinois 60301

n4a Legislative Update: FY 2018 Funding Advances

advocacy.alert.benefit

FY 2018 Funding Advances

House Approves $14.2 Million Increase for OAA Title III B Supportive Services

September 14, 2017

The two weeks since lawmakers returned to DC have seen a flurry of legislative activity surrounding federal funding for FY 2018. Last week, Congress and the Administration avoided an impending shutdown threat after passing a short-term spending bill in advance of the September 30 end of FY 2017, but there are still many decisions to hash out before finalizing FY 2018 federal funding. Currently, both the House and Senate have until December 8 to either pass a final, long-term measure to keep federal dollars flowing through the full fiscal year or figure out another temporary compromise. n4a’s recent Legislative Update previewed what must-do’s are in store for Congress this fall, and while some progress has been made at least toward avoiding government default and shutdown at the end of the month, there is still a lengthy list of outstanding legislative priorities.

Status of FY 2018 Federal Funding

After a surprising concession from President Trump last week regarding the length of a debt limit extension, Congress passed a bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep federal programs funded at FY 2017 levels temporarily and to extend the debt limit until December 8. Because a first installment of more than $15 billion in emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey recovery was also included in the deal, lawmakers were able to hustle this package to a speedy approval.

The CR means that funding for Older Americans Act and other aging programs will continue at current levels through the first few months of FY 2018. This short-term funding agreement gives Members some more time to continue advancing final FY 2018 funding bills, but both lawmakers and advocates have a lot of work to do over the next two months to reach agreement on a longer-term measure, and House and Senate proposals look very different.

House Progress on Older Americans Act Funding

Appropriators in the House were first out of the gate with an FY 2018 OAA funding proposal. In July, the full House Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) that would level fund most core OAA programs, but that would also eliminate funding for the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) and drastically reduce funding for senior workforce development and elder justice programs.

In an effort to restore “regular order” to the appropriations process, House leaders bundled the eight remaining bills (out of a total of 12) into an “omnibus” package to advance it on the House floor in the fastest possible way. The omnibus passed on a largely party-line vote over Democratic objection to overall reduced funding for domestic programs and controversial policy riders. The $1.23 trillion package, which now includes all 12 House-passed measures, is now heading to the Senate. The austerity of the omnibus and the policy riders, however, mean the Senate won’t take it up as is.

OAA III B Amendment Success!

Debate over the House FY 2018 omnibus bill was the first time in many years that the Labor-HHS portion of the bill has been discussed on the House floor, which meant that there was an opportunity for Members to offer amendments to the measure. As detailed in our recent Advocacy Alerts, n4a has worked with several key offices to offer amendments to increase funding for core OAA Title III programs to the levels that were agreed to in the 2016 OAA reauthorization.

Both Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) offered amendments to increase funding for Title III programs. Rep. Bonamici’s amendment, which would have increased Title III B, C and E programs by a total of $51 million, failed on a voice vote on Tuesday night.

House floor statements from Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) in support of OAA programs are viewable here: https://youtu.be/GIKlryhpzdE.

However, we are thrilled that today the House agreed by voice vote to adopt the amendment from Rep. McSally to increase Title III B supportive services funding by $14.2 million to authorized amounts. With the exception of a very modest $2.5 million increase for III B services achieved in FY 2017, this is the first significant increase for these programs since they were slashed during sequestration, and it represents a major advocacy win for the Aging Network!

Senate Progress on Older Americans Act Funding

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate appropriators also made progress on their funding proposal for OAA and other aging programs. Last week both the subcommittee and full Appropriations Committee introduced a bill that would entirely flat fund OAA and many other aging programs at FY 2017 levels.

This bill rejects the House-proposed cuts to SHIP, SCSEP and Elder Justice programs, and ultimately would maintain the status quo for aging funding in FY 2018. While flat funding is often felt as a cut for many local agencies, in this very difficult budget environment, the Senate-proposed bill is also a major advocacy win. More details about both the House and the Senate spending bills are available in n4a’s updated Appropriations Chart.

Next Steps for FY 2018 Federal Funding

Whether or not lawmakers will be able to pass a full-year federal funding bill by December 8 depends on if they can reach a bipartisan agreement on overall spending levels. The end of FY 2017 on September 30 is also the end of the current, two-year bipartisan budget agreement that slightly raised budget caps and relieved both the pressure of and threat from sequestration. Because achieving a full-year plan to keep the government running will require support from at least some Senate Democrats, negotiators are discussing—though no public progress has been made on—reaching another bipartisan budget deal to lift current budget caps.

In the meantime, national and local aging advocates must respond to both the House and Senate funding proposals. Ultimately, we want Congress to adopt the Senate-proposed funding levels for SHIP, SCSEP, Elder Justice and several other key line-items that support aging programs. We also want Congress to adopt the House-passed increase for OAA Title III B programs, which is long overdue.

Stay tuned to n4a for updated resources and tools to use to promote both of these messages. We also encourage you to reach out to your Members of Congress now to secure meetings and site visits during the fall when they are back in their Districts and States during recess!

----
This Legislative Update is an n4a membership benefit. For more information about these and other federal aging policy issues, please contact n4a’s policy team: Amy Gotwals (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Autumn Campbell (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), 202.872.0888.

September 21, 2017 Advocacy Alert

n4a Advocacy Alert

Senate Vote Planned Next Week for Graham-Cassidy n4a Updates Grassroots Advocacy Tools to #SaveMedicaid

September 21, 2017

As n4a’s September 19 Advocacy Alert detailed, there is a new—and very serious—threat to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid, which would have drastic implications for health care costs and coverage for older adults. The Graham-Cassidy proposal to repeal and replace the ACA and restructure Medicaid includes devastating cuts to critical health care services and programs.  

Senate Republicans are attempting to push the Graham-Cassidy bill through both chambers in Congress in less than 12 legislative days—and without a complete analysis of cost and coverage implications from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). We understand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) intends to hold a vote on this measure as early as next Wednesday, as Congress has only until September 30 to pass this measure before the fast-track, privileged process expires.  

Local Advocates MUST ACT NOW to reach out to your Senators if we are going to prevent significant threats to health care programs critical to older adults. n4a has updated our #SaveMedicaid tools and resources to assist your advocacy efforts! n4a will also hold a conference call for Aging Network Advocates TOMORROW, FRIDAY, September 22 at 1:00 p.m. ET to discuss advocacy next steps and strategies (CALL IN NUMBER: 1-866-809-4014, PASSWORD: 8720885).  

While we are opposed to many of the provisions in Graham-Cassidy, we are extremely concerned about the move to restructure Medicaid. To be clear, the Medicaid cuts and caps in Graham-Cassidy apply to ALL of Medicaid, not just the ACA Medicaid expansion population. This means that the in-home and nursing home care provided to millions of vulnerable older adults could be in jeopardy. We are now asking all AAA and Title VI aging programs around the country to reach out to your Senators this week and next to share your concerns about what Medicaid cuts would mean for older adults and caregivers that you serve.  

In particular, we believe the Senate bill’s final provisions and passage hinge especially on the following Senators who have expressed previous concerns with Medicaid caps and cuts: Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jeff Flake and John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). If you live in one of these states, your advocacy is especially critical. Additionally, we hope you will engage your local leadership, providers, other agency stakeholders, clients and grassroots—go big and go broad!

Advocacy Tools Available

To support your advocacy efforts, n4a has UPDATED our suite of #SaveMedicaid tools and resources to address the threats posed by Graham-Cassidy (www.n4a.org/savemedicaid). Please use any/all of the following to assist your advocacy:

Also, join us for a conference call TOMORROW, Friday, September 22 at 1:00 p.m. ET to discuss advocacy strategy and answer local advocate’s questions. We

encourage all members and your networks to join us for this conversation (CALL IN NUMBER: 1-866-809-4014, PASSWORD: 8720885).

How to Take Action:

Now is the time for broad action! We have less than one week to stop this bill and prevent major changes to Medicaid. We’re urging all n4a members to find a way to engage your Senators on this issue, and to ensure that your local networks reach out as well. We may not get another chance to prevent devastating Medicaid cuts!

  • Send a Letter to Your Senators You can use n4a’s template letter to fax or email a letter to your Senators. Send this letter to any state/Washington, DC staff that you know and/or you can find fax numbers and emails on senate websites at www.senate.gov.  
  • Call your Senators Senators have said they aren’t hearing from their constituents about health care reform! Let’s change this—making a call is an easy way to be heard. Use n4a’s Talking Points to frame your message. You can find Senate DC office numbers on the Capitol Switchboard (202.224.3121), or look up your Senators’ district phone numbers on their websites.  
  • Alert Your Grassroots Ask your grassroots to reach out to your Senators as well. n4a has put together a template alert that you can customize, as well as a social media toolkit with ready-made images and messages. As your agency is able to, please engage your provider networks, advisory boards and committees, and other stakeholders (including clients and caregivers!) to reach out.  
  • Engage Your Local Media It is essential that lawmakers and the public understand what Medicaid cuts could mean for seniors.
  • Consider submitting a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local paper. n4a has a template op-ed/letter to the editor that you can use to get started, but it is important to customize the messages to your community and states.

Again, advocacy NOW is critical. There is not much time to prevent devastating cuts to health and long-term care services for older adults. It is important to reach out no matter where you live, but it is essential if you live in Maine, West Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Alaska and Kansas.  

Use n4a’s UPDATED advocacy tools and resources at (www.n4a.org/savemedicaid) to connect with your Senators and ask your local grassroots and stakeholders to do so as well!

Recap on Graham-Cassidy:

Graham-Cassidy would convert the ACA to a block grant structure—or capped amount given to states from the federal government—to provide insurance premium assistance (or other “health care services” up to the state discretion) to individuals previously on the Marketplace. The federal block grant, which would end after 2026, would also be subject to appropriations, which means it could be cut significantly by congressional appropriators. The block grant approach leaves it up to states to figure out how they want to provide health care services—premium support or otherwise—to individuals and who they want to target for coverage.   

Additionally, Graham-Cassidy would eliminate the individual and employer mandate; allow states to determine which health care services they deem protected as “essential benefits”; and allow insurers to charge older beneficiaries up to five times more than younger people for health coverage (or more, should states allow that). The bill would also effectively end Medicaid expansion to low-income adults, including a disproportionate share of adults between 55 and 64, as of 2019, which is earlier than any of the previous ACA repeal/replace proposals. The proposal would roll a portion of federal funding for Medicaid expansion into the overall block grant to states and force states to use commercial insurance options to cover individuals previously on Medicaid expansion, which would likely ultimately cost states more given Medicaid’s below average per-person costs.  

As with the previous repeal attempts, Graham-Cassidy goes beyond ACA and would fundamentally restructure the Medicaid program by converting it to a per-capita cap under which states would receive a set amount of Medicaid funding per beneficiary that grows more slowly each year than anticipated Medicaid costs, thereby shifting costs to states. Additionally, in order to accommodate year-over-year costs growth, Graham-Cassidy explicitly gives states flexibility to cut services—such as eliminating optional services to provide long-term services and supports (LTSS) at home and in the community. Ultimately,

Graham-Cassidy appears written to drive hundreds of billions in cuts to the federal Medicaid program, which would harm older adults and people with disabilities receiving Medicaid health care and LTSS.

--- If you have questions or concerns about this Advocacy Alert or n4a’s policy positions, please contact Autumn Campbell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Amy Gotwals at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

September 11, 2017 Advocacy Alert

advocacy.alert.benefit

Update on OAA Amendments

Still Time for Advocacy Calls to House!

 
As our Sept. 7 Advocacy Alert shared, n4a worked with several congressional
champions on amendments to the House’s omnibus spending bill to increase the
House’s recommended funding levels for OAA. The House did not get through the
more than 200 amendments last week, but the two OAA amendments will come
up for consideration by the full House this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday, so
advocates should take action today and tomorrow!
 
The message and action steps remain the same, but now you have more time to
spread the word in your community!
 
The first amendment comes from Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Rep. Elise
Stefanik (R-NY) who have an amendment that would boost OAA Title III B
Supportive Services funding by adding $14.2 million to the current bill’s level of $350
million. As you know, increasing III B funding is n4a’s top appropriations priority,
but we need your help to get this amendment into the bill!
 
A second amendment from Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Dave Loebsack (DIA)
would boost OAA Title III B, C and E programs, nearly up to their authorized
level, for a total increase of $51 million.
 
But if their colleagues in the House don’t sufficiently support these amendments,
our efforts fail, so please take the time today or tomorrow morning to call the DC
offices of any and all Representatives in your planning and service area!
 
What You Can Do:
  • Call Your Representative(s) NOW.
  • Use the Capitol Switchboard to connect (202.224.3121) or look up their direct line via their webpage, which you can find at www.house.gov.
  • When you call, identify yourself as a constituent and, if you’re able, briefly mention the role your agency plays in the congressional district.
  • Ask the Member of Congress to support the McSally-Stefanik Amendment #100 and the Bonamici-Loebsack Amendment #133 on the House floor.
  • Close with a line or two about why OAA is so important to the older adults and caregivers you serve and why this additional funding is so needed.
  • Quickly Spread the Word. Ask your staff, allies, partners and other stakeholdersto also make calls to their Representatives.

      Timing is obviously critical, so thank you for taking swift action!

---
If you have questions or concerns about this Advocacy Alert or n4a’s policy
positions, please contact Autumn Campbell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Amy Gotwals at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I4A Alert for August 11, 2017

 I4A_Alert.png

Illinois Aging Network Alert
A periodic report of the impact of the state budget crisis on Illinois Seniors and Community Programs on Aging, from
I4A - Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Contact:  Joy Paeth 618-222-2561 or Jon Lavin 708-383-0258
 
Education – An Aging Issue!
First things First - The Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging is most thankful for the enactment of a State Budget that responded to our requests over the past years.  We are beginning the process of rebuilding our networks as funding begins to flow.  What a great change from the past two years!
 
The issue today is Education Funding – Our Association is not an expert on this subject, but we do know that school funding is an “aging issue.”
 
Not only do older persons support our schools through property and income taxes, but across Illinois there are 34,027 Grandparents age 60 and over raising their Grandchildren as the primary parent(s) (Department of Commerce - U.S. Census - American Community Survey).
Often these grandparents are alone, facing legal, health, mobility, societal and income barriers.  School days and education are essential to support their ability to meet their obligations for a full life for their children.  School contributes to their stamina and ability to handle all the demands of a Relative who is working through the red tape, physical obstacles and endurance needed to be a parent.
 
Please resolve the school funding formula issue to assure quality education for all Illinois children and quality schools for these wonderful grandparents!
 
Distributed for the Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging by:
Jonathan Lavin
Chief Executive Officer
AgeOptions

Get in touch

Location

ECIAAA
1003 Maple Hill Road
Bloomington, IL 61705-9327

Contact

Email: aginginfo@eciaaa.org
Phone: 309-829-2065
Fax: 309-829-6021

Opening hours

Mon-Fri: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Sat-Sun: CLOSED

Seniors

Seniors may call toll free:
Phone: 1-800-888-4456