The Illinois Department of Aging’s Community Care program, which pays for home health care workers for the elderly, has run out of money. Over 270 homecare agencies received a letter saying the state would not be able to pay them.
Annette Jones is a homecare worker. She worries about who would care for the seniors she looks after if the program isn’t fixed.
“They won’t have anyone to do anything for them. I cook for them. I make sure I bathe them. They would be devastated,” Jones said.
Seniors do not need to worry about immediately losing services. At least for now, enough agencies will continue serving clients, with the hope of being paid in the future.
But some smaller providers may have to layoff workers or close their doors, transferring their work to larger agencies.
Jones is 70 years old, a senior herself. She says she will continue to work for her clients, even if her paychecks are late. But just like the seniors she serves, she deserves to be able to provide for her own basic needs.
Carl Cirillo is one of 80,000 seniors who rely on the program. He worries about his aide. Some workers have gone months without payment.
“These people live paycheck to paycheck," Cirillo said. "And it’s so unfair. She is always here, everyday, no matter what the weather or the circumstance. She works much too hard for the job.”
Overall the program saves the state money by keeping more seniors out of nursing homes.
Funding could be restored if legislatures grant a supplemental appropriation.