Serving Illinois Seniors in a New, More Cost-Efficient Way

By Mark BatinickState Representative, 97thDistrict  

As consumers, when we walk into a store we have many options, not only in the products we choose but in the brands of those products. As taxpayers, we rarely get that option. As a state, Illinois spends 3.7 times the national average on our non-Medicaid clients, but we have one of the largest numbers of low-need individuals in costly nursing homes. Spending more money hasn’t resulted in better services or better quality of life for the people that need them.  

The Illinois Department on Aging has developed a new program that will improve the way Illinois serves seniors not eligible for Medicaid while saving the state money. The Community Reinvestment Program allows the state to maintain funding at 2 times the national average for seniors not eligible for Medicaid while addressing the projected 57 percent increase in our aging population.  

Under the current system, all seniors, regardless of Medicaid eligibility status, receive services under a federal Medicaid waiver that relies heavily on the use of home care aides. Under CRP, homemakers remain an essential part of the services provided and are still offered as a core service of the program. However, there are some services that homemakers simply can’t provide such as home modifications (e.g., grab bars), assistive technology (e.g., walking canes, tub transfer benches) and medication management – all services offered through the Community Reinvestment Program.  

This new program – which is projected to save the state $120 million – allows us to incorporate new, innovative and cost-efficient ways to serve clients and increase the menu of options they can choose from to meet their needs. In addition to the core services offered through the CRP, seniors will be eligible for one-time expenses that could improve their quality of life and reduce nursing home or emergency room admittance, thus saving the state money.  

For example, a senior may enjoy the independence of doing their own laundry, but due to persistent hip or other medical issues, can no longer get down the stairs to where the laundry is located. Under CCP, we may pay a homemaker $17.14 an hour for 5 hours each week to come into the home and take care of the laundry; however, under CRP we have the opportunity to provide a one-time expense that could relocate that washer and dryer to the main level, giving the senior greater independence and quality of life by allowing them to do a task that they enjoy while saving the state money.   Seniors are the largest consumers of medications and are the most vulnerable to adverse reactions/events; non-adherence to a medication regimen is a primary reason many frail older adults are placed in nursing facilities.

Thirty percent of older adult hospital admissions are drug-related, with over 11% due to medication adherence and 10%-17% due to adverse effects of medications. Under CRP, seniors needing assistance with managing these medications will have access to medication management services to simplify their medication regimens, reduce the risk of adverse reactions to medications and reduce admissions to emergency rooms and long-term care facilities. One-time expenses such as these can be included as part of the menu of optional services offered to seniors in the program. Savings through CRP come from the flexibility of services that we are able to provide; these savings can then be stretched to cover clients with greater needs or new clients.  

Finding new, innovative and cost-efficient ways to serve seniors and increase the menu of options they can choose from to address their unmet needs is long overdue and is a necessary step to provide the best possible service for seniors and maintain quality services to a fast-growing population.   

CRP shows us that, as a state, we can be more responsible with the taxpayer’s money and still provide our most vulnerable populations a variety of services that will address their needs and improve their quality of life.

[i]AARP Across the States, Profiles of Long-Term Services and Supports, 2012 report