Illinois Aging Network Alert
A weekly report on the impact of the state budget crisis on Illinois seniors and community programs on aging
From I4A – Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Week of June13, 2016
Contact: Joy Paeth 618-222-2561 or Jon Lavin 708-383-0258
When Will Reason Prevail?
This morning several Directors of Illinois area agencies on aging informed the Illinois Department on Aging that they have developed plans to close down their region’s community senior services network this summer. This information was provided during a phone call where the Department explained that federal funding would stop after reimbursements covering the month of June. Unless there is a court order or an enacted state appropriation, no federal funds will be processed for July, August or September. Not all area agencies on aging are in the same situation this summer (AgeOptions would not have federal funding for community based organizations, but will continue state funds for home delivered meals, about half of the meals, if the Court Order continues into July, August and September). It is clear that many of Illinois’ 230 community senior service agencies will desist operations without federal support.
The biggest problem is that the federal dollars are in jeopardy that come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Community Living under the U.S. Older Americans Act. The federal appropriation is on a fiscal year that begins October 1, 2015, and concludes September 30, 2016. Under Illinois law, that funding will end on June 30. The Department stated that June reimbursement will come through in early July and then no additional funding is anticipated following that date unless there is a Court order or a state appropriation.
Federal Older Americans Act resources require state match. That match is combined with federal funds to process payments under the Beeks Consent Decree for meals. Home Delivered Meal funding alone is problematic since it may not be used for administrative purposes. Area agencies administer the court ordered dollars with their federal dollars and state match under Planning and Service Area Grants to Area Agencies on Aging. Not a penny of Planning and Service Area Grants has been provided this year.
Without the federal and state funding, there will not be a viable Aging Network. Federal law requires that the Illinois Department on Aging send the federal and state matching resources to the 13 designated area agencies on aging for distribution to community service provider agencies. It may not be proper under federal guidelines for the Department on Aging to send the court-ordered Home Delivered Meal funding directly to community agencies. Those agencies have contracts with area agencies on aging, and no contract with the Department. This is a legal, moral, practical, administrative and human mess! When will reason prevail and Illinois act responsibly to pass an agreed budget with adequate resources to meet its legal obligations under the Illinois Constitution?
If no federal dollars are released and no state administrative support to area agencies on aging is provided, the high stakes game of chicken being played out by elected leaders will result in the loss of independence, health and lives of older persons. It is time for politics to be put aside and for leadership and governance to prevail.
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