Tuesday, April 12, 2022
State Level Update
While rain was in the forecast across the state for weeks, the Illinois Legislature was raining down bills with unprecedented speed. The session was shortened this year to allow legislators extra time to campaign in their newly redrawn districts. Half of Illinois legislators have a 50% turnover among their constituents due to the redistricting. To meet the earlier session deadline of April 8th, the General Assembly and Governor Pritzker reached a budget agreement in record time. On April 9th, just a few hours past the scheduled end of spring session, the Illinois legislature passed a final Fiscal Year 2023 state budget.
The $46.5 billion spending plan sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature contains some significant wins for older adults, including:
- A new, $4 million appropriation for Caregiver Support Services; and
- An increase of $14.2 million in the Home Delivered Meals allocation.
The budget also includes a permanent expansion of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to include 1.2 million Illinoisans who were previously ineligible for the refund. Qualifying low-wage older adult workers will now receive up to $1,200 in a state tax refund.
Other State Legislation
Lawmakers also approved two significant bills to support long-term care residents. The first one requires minimum staffing levels in nursing homes and ties this to government funding. Another bill to protect patients’ rights always guarantees residents access to at least one visitor, even during a pandemic, regardless of public health-related disaster status. The bill will still allow hospitals and long-term care facilities to set guidelines for visitors, such as requiring health screenings, masks and vaccinations.
Another bill aims to end housing discrimination by ensuring that renters can no longer be turned away for using Social Security, veteran’s housing benefits or other sources of income if they are otherwise qualified.
Federal Budget Breakdown
President Biden’s FY 2023 budget proposal includes significant increases for aging programs. Signaling his commitment to supporting older adults and those with disabilities to age independently and with dignity at home, the President requested $3 billion for the Administration for Community Living (ACL). This is an increase of $565 million (or 32 percent) above FY 2022 appropriations. Most of the proposed additional funding is directed toward Older Americans Act programs and services.
Here’s how key Older Americans Act services fared in the President’s budget:
- Supportive Services would increase by 25 percent ($101.4 million), reaching $500 million in FY 2023.
- Nutrition Programs earned the largest increase in the Biden budget, with a 31 percent increase ($305 million). Interestingly, in FY 2022 the President requested a massive increase in home-delivered meal funding. This year’s budget puts more funding into congregate meals in an effort to increase social connection.
- Caregiver Support would increase by $56 million, a 29 percent increase over this year’s appropriations.
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program would see a 50 percent increase.
- Lifespan Respite Program would get a 75 percent increase.
- Other smaller increases are included for Evidence-Based Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (6 percent) and the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP; 4 percent).
While ambitious, this presidential funding plan will face an uphill battle in a divided Congress to reach its proposed allocations—and your advocacy will be needed in the coming weeks and months ahead.