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Do not cut community care programs

To the editor:
    These are tough financial times for Illinois, and our legislators will be making tough decisions as they negotiate with Gov. Rauner on his 2016 budget. They need to hear from constituents to know how important services caring for our most vulnerable neighbors are, many of which would be cut or eliminated under Gov. Rauner’s budget.
    Many community-based services – such as the adult day care and home services we provide – actually save Illinois money by delaying or preventing the need for nursing home care paid by Medicaid. By assisting individuals challenged by dementia, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and mobility limitations, we give their families the help they need in order to keep their loved ones at home. Many could not afford these services without state monies.
    No one wants to hear that, as the numbers of frail older adults living in their homes expands, costs in this area will continue to grow and that even modest increases in funding won’t keep up with the growing need. But all of us want to know that as our parents, grandparents, and ultimately we ourselves age, help will be available so we can live safely and with dignity. Even with generous support from private donors, almost all community-based agencies depend on government funding in order to care for low-income individuals.
    Growth in funding for these community-based programs to support more seniors is an investment in preventing unnecessary moves to nursing homes. Cuts threaten the well-being of vulnerable seniors and may force some service providers to close.
    What can you do? Contact Gov. Rauner’s office (217-782-0244) and your state legislators with the message that you are strongly opposed to budget cuts to the Community Care Program. AARP will connect you to your legislators by calling (844) 226-1190 or at www.savecommunitycare.org. Do it today!
    
NANCY J. BERRY, MHA
Executive Director
St. John’s Community Care - Collinsville