Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Its that time of year again. School is out, temperatures are rising, and Springfield just wrapped up its biggest annual rite: finalizing the state budget before the new fiscal year starts on July 1. What will it mean for aging services? Read on to find out the details and the potential impact of the state spending plan as well as the federal budget proposal.  

State Budget 

The Illinois Fiscal Year 2022 budget that passed in the wee hours of the morning on June 1stis on the Governor’s desk and is expected to be finalized by the June 30th deadline. Despite the Governor’s insistence on maintaining flat funding and not increasing taxes this year, the final budget is by no means lean. While it does not contain any general tax increases, it does contain significant increases in funding. However, analysts say that this is not deficit spending and that the state has been saved from the fiscal cliff that was predicted. Why? Because revenues coming into the state have been much larger than expected. In fact, Illinois received record revenue this year despite the pandemic. In addition, the Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) has infused billions of dollars into the state economy. 

The state budget contains significant increases to aging services for FY22 including: 

  • $52 million for the Community Care Program to cover adjustments in liability and rate increases, plus an additional $1 million for assistive technology  
  • $1 million increase for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program’s oversight of long-term care facilities  
  • $135 thousand for a new Foster Grandparent Program 
  • $6.1 million increase for Home Delivered Meals 
  • $1 million in level-funding for social isolation prevention and another $1 million for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia programs 
  • $204 thousand for the Senior Employment Program 

Federal Budget 

President Biden’s $6 trillion budget was released at the end of May and includes a 16increase to non-defense spending. This includes $3.1 billion for the Administration for Community Living (a 32% increase) which oversees the Older Americans Act (OAA) programs and services. This contains a significant investment (about $683 million) in Older Americans Act programs including increases to supportive services, nutrition and caregiver supports. The budget now goes to the legislature where negotiations will ramp up along the path to final passage.   

Federal Advocacy Opportunities 

One such budget negotiation discussion that AgeGuide is closely monitoring is a proposal by Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) to double FY22 funding to $4.24 billion for Older Americans Act programs and services. A sign-on letter of support has been circulated to Senate members and is due Thursday, June 17This is an excellent opportunity to champion critical investments in supporting older adults and their caregivers. Click here to contact your Senators TODAY! 

Negotiations around the budget and the President’s infrastructure package are expected to continue throughout the summer. This is the perfect time to contact your legislators and tell them directly, why you care about Older Americans Act programs and services. Click here to engage with your federal legislators on this issue. 

Federal Relief 

The most recent Federal relief bill, The American Rescue Plan (ARP), contains $8.1 billion for IllinoisStates have until 2024 to appropriate and spend all of these funds.  This funding includes $320 million for the Department of Health and Human Services with the following allocations going toward Illinois Department on Aging services as follows: 

  • $16.7 million for social services including information and referral (e.g., hotlines to help people find local services and resources), transportation, legal services, and programs to reduce social isolation. 
  • $10.9 million for Congregate Meals 
  • $16.3 million for Home Delivered Meals 
  • $5.2 million for the National Family Caregiver Support Program 
  • $364 thousand for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program 

Advocacy Priorities 

While the relief funds are going to be very helpful in shoring up services during and beyond the pandemic, they are only a short-term solution. AgeGuide continues to advocate for long-term investment in aging services as the over 60 population increases and need for services grows.  

Even as COVID deaths and infections have decreased in the community and Illinois moved to Phase 5 of the reopening plannursing homes seem to be holding at a steady rate of infection, indicating that there is still work to do. A recent AARP report found that COVID rates for nursing home residents and staff remained level during the four week period ending May 16th. Increased investment is needed to prevent future health outbreaks and loss of life in long-term care facilities which continue to be understaffed and lack proper personal protective equipment.  

In addition, caregivers in Illinois continue to struggle with the challenges of balancing work, family, and caregiving as well as stress and burnout. Unfortunately, the legislation that AgeGuide and the Illinois Association of Area Agencies championed to fund the Illinois Caregiver Act of 2004, didn’t pass this session. AgeGuide appreciates the support of legislators, especially the bill sponsors, Senator Belt and Representative Willis, and the many partners who supported the legislation. We will continue to build a coalition around this bill in the next legislative session. 

Although the state budget looks promising this year, AgeGuide’s advocacy on behalf of all of us who are aging in Illinois continues to be critical. Please monitor our advocacy opportunities page and join us in advocating for all Illinoisans as we age.  


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