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Continuum of Care Legislation Sponsor
Illinois Senator John G. Mulroe

This past week was a busy one for our proposed legislation providing for a continuum of care license. A number of groups have indicated both support and opposition. 

 Our main opponents are the same community advocates that we have faced before, ARC of Illinois and Equip for Equality. The claim of these groups is that our legislation “takes the disability system in the opposite direction” because Misericordia offers a campus setting contrary to ARC’s and Equip’s vision that all individuals with disabilities should live in small homes in the community. They oppose any official action of the State that would appear to recognize the legitimacy of Misericordia’s model. Another opponent asserts that the continuum of care license would “allow segregation from the community.”

Our opponents also circulated a rumor that the purpose of the legislation was so Misericordia could do an “end-run” around the new federal rules on home and community based settings which will go into effect in 2019.

 

The rumor caused a member of Speaker Madigan’s staff to contact us to ask if the rumor was true. We were able to quickly dispel this concern, explaining that the new federal rules apply only to our ten homes in the community and those homes meet the requirements of the new rules. Therefore, Misericordia has no reason to do an “end-run” around these rules and that is not at all the purpose of the legislation. We then had a telephone conference with representatives of the governor’s office, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health and Family Services. They all noted that Misericordia was an exceptional facility providing the highest quality of care. However, they expressed concerned that the new legislation would disqualify the State from receiving matching Medicaid funds for the Misericordia facilities. We were able to point out that the proposed legislation makes it clear that Medicaid funding would continue unchanged. The call with the representatives from the governor’s office and the state agencies also gave us a chance to explain to them why we were seeking this legislation and how it would benefit our residents.

 

Sen. Mulroe, the chief senate sponsor of the bill, organized a second call that included representatives of the governor’s office, various state agencies and Equip for Equality. Sen. Mulroe asked us to explain the purpose of the legislation and how it would benefit Misericordia and its residents. We were able to explain that the legislation would recognize the unique services offered by Misericordia and the fact that it provides a full continuum of care, unlike any other provider in the State. We also explained how a single license would facilitate the transition of residents from one setting at Misericordia to another as their needs change, a process that now takes weeks because of the different licensing structures. Equip, as expected, voiced its opposition, but Sen. Mulroe gave us the opportunity to counter all the concerns raised by Equip. In the end, Sen. Mulroe also pointed out what an exceptional place Misericordia is. A point that everyone else acknowledged. He concluded by saying that if the legislation could ease some of the bureaucratic burden on Misericordia without affecting funding, he did not see why the bill would be objectionable. Sen. Mulroe is a great friend of Misericordia and we truly appreciate his support.

 

At this time, the best thing families can do to support our efforts to get the continuum of care license enacted is to make sure that your state representative and state senator have toured Misericordia. As I pointed out last week, a tour is the best way for our state officials to see for themselves the range and quality of services provided by Misericordia.

 

Scott

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