Governor Wields Veto to Alter Illinois Home Care Bill

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) issued an amendatory veto for legislation that intended to block proposed home care cuts, potentially changing the accessibility of in-home services for thousands of Illinois residents.

The Governor cited an unbalanced budget approach in his veto reasoning. Illinois has not had an approved, finalized, formal budget since Rauner vetoed a budget proposal July 1.

“These bills may be well-intentioned, but they are ultimately harmful to the programs they are trying to help,” Lance Trover, a Rauner spokesperson, said in a prepared statement. “The governor understands and shares the frustration of members who want to fund these programs, but the appropriate way to do so is in the context of a truly balanced budget.”

The bill, HB2482, aimed to keep the Determination of Need (DoN) score—the assessment value used to determine the eligibility of Illinois residents for home and community-based services—at the same level, to bar Rauner’s original proposal to reduce these services. The higher the score, the higher the demonstrated need for care.

Currently, Illinois residents with a score of 29—who may need help with day-to-day functions like eating, preparing food, housework and more—are eligible for these services under the state’s Home Services Program and the Community Care program. Governor Rauner wanted to raise that score to 37, which would effectively cut out nearly 10,000 disabled people and 24,000 seniors from receiving state-funded services, according to a health and medicine policy research group.

The governor’s rewrites in the amendatory veto would not raise the DoN score above 29, but would force patients to choose either community-based services or an institution, instead of being able to utilize both.

Rauner also stated that his amendment changes are more in line with the health system’s transition away from institutional care toward lower-cost settings.

“For too long, Illinois has over-prescribed institutional care to lower-need individuals when less expensive and more appropriate care options are available,” Gov. Rauner wrote in his veto message. “In order to provide the best particular care for each individual, to ensure that our support services remain affordable and to maximize the number of individuals served, we must rebalance the services being provided with greater precision.”

Since Rauner vetoed the state’s proposed budget earlier this summer, he has proposed numerous cuts across state programs, including reducing funding for child care, adult day programs and in-home therapy.

The legislature is scheduled to return on Tuesday, Nov. 10. In his amendatory veto, Rauner noted the bill will have his approval with his changes.

Written by Amy Baxter