Bryant Op Ed on Community Reinvestment Program

Recently, House Aging Committee Chairwoman Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) penned an op-ed criticizing the Illinois Department on Aging for its decision to implement the Community Reinvestment Program in place of the existing Community Care Program. As the Minority Spokesperson for the Committee on Aging, I felt that Rep. Moeller’s criticisms were unfair and deserved a response.

While it’s true that our state’s budget situation in recent years has contributed to funding challenges for the Community Care Program, providers have also been faced with rapidly increasing numbers of older adults and limited resources with which to serve them. Many throughout the provider network understand that the State cannot sit by and do nothing to address the growing senior population and the corresponding increase in demand for services.

In response to shifting demographics, the Illinois Department on Aging has come up with a way to address the projected growth in our aging community that will allow the State of Illinois to continue to serve this population, regardless of their Medicaid eligibility status.

CRP would put Illinois in line with national trends and maintain a service package for people not eligible for Medicaid.  Currently, Illinois spends 3.7 times the national average on home and community based services for non-Medicaid eligible individuals.  CRP maintains funding at two times the national average.

Implementing the Community Reinvestment Program will provide a savings to the state of $120 million; the $120 million in savings realized through CRP comes from the flexibility of services that the Department of Aging is able to provide. These savings enable funding to be stretched to cover clients with greater needs or even new clients.

The Department on Aging has shown a commitment to fulfilling its mission to support seniors to live independently in their own homes and communities. As with CCP, seniors transitioning to CRP will be provided with a broad array of community services and support as their plan-of-care is determined.
It is vitally important to understand that clients remain the final decision makers regarding their care plans and are not unwillingly bound to a plan of care.

All seniors in CRP will continue to receive services based on their level of unmet needs. The Community Reinvestment Program is designed to be a highly individualized and person-centered program. Everyone’s needs are different and every senior in the program will receive the services they require to stay in their homes longer. If seniors that have higher incomes would like to purchase additional services, they will be provided the opportunity to do that through the same provider network and at the same cost the state pays.

California’s answer to a massive budget deficit was to serve Medicaid only; Illinois has decided to continue serving Medicaid clients, but we must do so in a way that is responsible and will allow us to maintain services and increase our ability to serve new clients.

The Department on Aging has continually engaged with the provider network throughout this process and solicited input to minimize the impact of such a significant undertaking. Homemakers remain an integral part of the services provided to clients of the Department on Aging and are among the core services offered under CCP and CRP.

However, there are some services that homemakers simply cannot provide such as home modifications (e.g., grab bars), assistive technology (e.g., walking canes, tub transfer benches) and medication management – all services offered through the Community Reinvestment Program.

The Community Reinvestment Program uses the same, established Aging network and the same care coordinators that are currently in place to work with seniors and providers to develop their plan of care. CRP was designed with the flexibility to address the specific needs of Illinoisans using the existing provider network structure.

After administering a successful demonstration program which established a framework for providing a larger menu of services with minimal bureaucracy, the Department was able to blend the successful models used by other states and the documented successes of the Flexible Senior Services Demonstration program and the Nursing Home Deflection Pilot program to create the Community Reinvestment Program.

Providing our seniors more flexible options for the services they need is not only beneficial to them, but it’s also essential for the sustainability of all of Illinois’ social services programs. Finding new, innovative and cost-efficient ways to serve clients and increase the menu of options they can choose from to address their unmet needs is long overdue and is a necessary step to provide the best possible service to Senior citizens who need help.