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Democrats Challenge Rauner's Push To Change Illinois Home Health-Care Services

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Illinois Democrats and senior-citizen groups are challenging Gov. Bruce Rauner’s push to change home health-care services.

With a growing elderly population, Rauner says the state needs more control over how much it pays home health-care workers and what those services include.

Donna Peek is a home health-care aide and member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She says Rauner’s plan will upend close relationships between clients and their caregivers.

“I’ve been working with seniors long enough to know that the governor’s plans will cause chaos and confusion," she said. "Pinching pennies here and there at the expense of seniors is the wrong decision.” 

Jennifer Reif, with the state's Department of Aging, says the administration’s new program would serve more people without paying as much for every patient.

“The Department on Aging needed to find a way to maintain services for current clients,” Reif said, “while increasing our capacity to serve new clients.”

Democrats and groups like AARP say the program is essentially bogus, and 36,000 Illinois residents will lose care.  Both sides acknowledge Illinois is facing a demographic crisis, but a clear solution hasn't emerged.

Tom reports on statehouse issues for NPR Illinois. He's currently a Public Affairs Reporting graduate program student at the University of Illinois Springfield. He graduated from Macalester College. Tom is from New York City where he also did stand-up and improv and wrote for the Awl and WNYC public radio.