A plan to significantly cut service hours for professionals who provide care to Illinoisans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who live in group homes was put on hold Wednesday after the Pritzker Administration and leaders from his Department of Human Services (IDHS) faced extreme backlash from legislators, service providers, and families whose loved ones would have been impacted by the cuts.
State Senator Seth Lewis (R-Bartlett) was a vocal opponent of the cuts, and said state government’s primary responsibility is to care for its vulnerable citizens. “Our fundamental responsibility in the General Assembly is to ensure adequate resources are available to care for those who otherwise cannot take care of themselves,” said Lewis. “Adults with disabilities rely on state government for vital services and other assistance, and since learning of the proposed cuts, I have been working hard behind the scenes to make sure the reduction does not happen.”
Lewis went on to say that he was a co-signer of a letter initiated by Senate Republicans and also of a letter initiated by a statehouse Democrat who opposed the potential cuts. He also participated in several meetings with IDD care providers and other legislators to discuss the issue. “This is not a partisan issue, and I am working with every lawmaker, regardless of political affiliation, who agrees that a cut in service hours for direct support professionals is a monumental step in the wrong direction. I am pleased to know our message was heard and that this nearly 9% budget cut will not take effect this fiscal year as planned.”
According to a spokesperson for the Pritzker Administration, the cuts are paused for the remainder of the current fiscal year which ends June 30, 2024.
The proposal to cut 2.5 million service hours for direct support professionals was included in an IDHS information slide deck recently shared with providers. It was estimated that about 90% of the people in these facilities would have been affected by the cuts.
“While we have successfully pushed these cuts back for the time being, the Pritzker Administration and IDHS leaders did not say they are taking them off the table completely. They only committed to delaying them until the start of the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2024,” said Lewis. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations- Health & Human Services Committee, I will be watching this issue closely and asking tough questions when IDHS comes to us with their budget ask for Fiscal Year 2025. As budget discussions progress, it is a priority for me that our IDD population does not experience any decrease in services next year or any subsequent year.”