State budget cuts make deep gashes in fragile kids’ lives
By Linda McDaniel-Hale Point Taken June 22, 2012 4:40PM
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:16AM
While everyone all over the state is buzzing about what to do about pension reform, there is another silent battle going on that hasn’t received very much press.
Unfortunately on May 24, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill that would force children on ventilators and other types of medical technology into hospitals rather than being able to continue living less expensively at home.
According to Senate Bill 2840, families with children living at home on ventilators will have to pay 5 percent of their earnings to keep their child at home, if they earn $30,000 or less. The bill doesn’t stop there. Families of three who make $94,450 or more will be omitted from the program altogether and required to pay the entire $188,210 per year to keep their child at home.
How can a family that makes just under $95,000 a year afford to pay $188,210 per year to essentially keep their child at home rather than place him or her in a nursing home at approximately six times the cost? What does the state of Illinois expect parents to do?
How does the state of Illinois figure its budget is saving money when it is taking home care away from medically fragile children and essentially forcing them into nursing homes at a greater cost? This just doesn’t add up.
Equip for Equality, Illinois’ federally ordered protection and advocacy group, feels that this law would force children into institutions in violation of the American with Disabilities Act. Are these children not better off in their home environment, rather than living in a nursing home? With the governor so eager to cut costs by closing state facilities such as the Jacksonville Developmental Center, located downstate, why are children with medical needs being thrown under the bus?
With parents being responsible and keeping their medically fragile child at home, why are they being punished with this obvious morally reprehensible law? How can forcing families to be split up be better for anyone including the Illinois taxpayers, who are being forced into paying more for the care of medically fragile children?
To force these children to leave their families, familiar schools, churches and communities is unforgiveable. Our legislature should be ashamed of itself for ranking 48th out of 50 states for individuals with disabilities in home and community-based programs.
On one hand, they are pushing to close state institutions to save money, and on the other hand they can’t wait to put medically fragile children into institutions. So as our state legislature looks for more ways to keep the pension system afloat, it has sent sick children back in time.
Wake up, Springfield, get your priorities straight.
Linda McDaniel-Hale is a Sleepy Hollow resident.