Twenty thousand seniors and 10,000 people with disabilities across Illinois could lose their personal assistant services, which allow them to maintain their independence in their own homes, if budget cuts to the home services program proposed by the governor are enacted. Eligibility for home services are determined through an assessment tool called the Determination of Need, or DON score. Currently a person qualifies for home services if they score 29 or above. This score not only determines eligibility but also guides the service assessor in how many hours of service people need to accomplish important activities of daily living, such as preparing food, shopping for food, bathing, etc. So, as the severity of the disability increases and needs increase, the points on the DON go up.
Governor Rauner has decided to raise the DON score needed to qualify for services up to 37. Those currently receiving services between 29 and 37 equal the above-noted 10,000. Touted as being necessary to help balance the budget, this move will actually cost the state substantially more by creating an environment by which people, once stable in their homes, begin to deteriorate and hasten their entry into a nursing home. The statewide average for nursing home care is $6,500 per month. Community care costs one-third that of nursing home care. Although some individuals will be able to remain in their homes due to finding other resources, many will not. It will not take long for nursing home populations to increase. You do the math.