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Current Health Action Network

Current Health Action Network

Save IL Cares Rx & Circuit Breaker!

Important senior lifelines are in danger of being cut and we at Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC) need your help!

The state of Illinois legislature is currently working on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget (which begins on July 1 of this year) and they are considering making devastating cuts to IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker – two important state programs for seniors and people with disabilities.

Not only would these cuts be harmful for the over 200,000 recipients of these excellent programs, it does not bode well for all other state social services. If our legislators are willing to eliminate programs that allow our most vulnerable citizens to afford needed prescription medications and stay in their homes, what other important programs will they be willing to cut next? Please read on to learn about IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker, what cutting them would mean for Illinois, and how you can take action to stop these devastating budget cuts.

The Take Action information is at the end of this message.

ABOUT IL CARES Rx and CIRCUIT BREAKER:

IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker provide important assistance for seniors and people with disabilities.

IL Cares Rx is a state program that provides assistance for low-income seniors and people with disabilities to afford their prescription drugs. IL Cares Rx is an important safety net for seniors whose income is above Medicaid eligibility but who may only receive Social Security or a small pension and are struggling to make ends meet. However, with IL Cares Rx, recipients receive assistance for their monthly Medicare Part D premiums and receive their prescriptions for a co-pay of just $2.50, $6.30, or $15.00. This excellent program gives seniors and people with disabilities peace of mind knowing that they can afford their prescriptions and stay healthy.

Circuit Breaker is a state program that provides seniors and people with disabilities with small grants for property taxes and a $75 discount on license plates. By making these annual expenses more affordable, the Circuit Breaker program helps seniors and people with disabilities maintain their independence by being able to remain in their own homes and provide their own transportation. This not only helps these individuals to maintain their dignity and freedom, it also saves the state money in the long run. If seniors and people with disabilities cannot afford to stay in their own homes, they may eventually end up having to live in nursing homes and enrolling in Medicaid, which costs the state significantly more.

IL CARES Rx and CIRCUIT BREAKER ARE LOW-COST, COST-EFFECTIVE, AND SAVE THE STATE MONEY – IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE TO CUT THESE PROGRAMS:

Illinois Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker cost very little per enrollee but generate important outcomes that must be preserved, namely the health and independence of our seniors and people with disabilities.

While there will surely be some difficult cuts in whatever budget proposal is passed, eliminating IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker would be counter-productive, devastating, and would end up costing the state more in the long-term with increased emergency medical costs due to skipped prescriptions and costly nursing home care if seniors can no longer afford to stay in their own homes. Eliminating these programs may eliminate a budget line, but that certainly is no guarantee that the state, in the end, saves that money. In fact, it may end up costing much more in the future.

ABOUT THE LEGISLATIVE BUDGET PROCESS:

**IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker could be taken away as soon as July 1, 2011**

Earlier this year, Gov. Quinn announced his budget proposal, which included the complete elimination of both the IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker Programs. The House and Senate Appropriations – Human Services Committees recently passed their own budget proposals and while they include more funding for these programs (certainly due to the outcry from seniors across the state), they still create harmful cuts. The House Appropriations committee budget would continue funding for Circuit Breaker at the current level but cuts the funding level for IL Cares Rx in half for FY12.  The Senate Appropriations Committee also proposed cutting the IL Cares Rx program in half, and completely eliminates the funding for Circuit Breaker. This was very surprising, as the Senate’s original budget appeared more generous over all. Unfortunately, the Senate has not prioritized these important senior lifelines.

The next steps are a bit unknown. The House and Senate may choose to reconcile various aspects of their respective budget proposals into a new budget bill that will then go for a full vote. It is also possible that will simply choose to make the House or Senate version the final budget bill and put that to a full vote.  This is an unusual circumstance and no one is quite sure what direction they will choose to go in. What we do know is that the deadline for passing the budget is May 31, 2011, so our window for input is closing quickly.

If our legislators pass a budget that eliminates IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker, these programs could cease to exist as soon as this summer. If we want to ensure that these programs survive the budget negotiations, we have to make our voices heard!

TAKE ACTION:

**We need everyone’s help to save IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker**

House and Senate leaders are moving forward on the budget now and your calls can make a difference!

Even if you are not a recipient of these programs, cutting IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker will affect all Illinois residents. These drastic cuts will not only hurt the seniors who would lose needed assistance, they will end up costing the state more in the long term which will only lead to further cuts to social services in the future. If our legislators are willing to cut programs for our state’s most needy, what will they be willing to cut next? If you care about protecting our state’s social service programs, stand with us and take action today!

If you count on IL Cares Rx to afford your prescription drugs, let them know how losing that assistance would affect your ability to get the drugs that you need. If Circuit Breaker helps you to afford your property taxes and license plates, let them know how losing that program would inhibit your ability to maintain your independence.

Please join us in calling on Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton to protect IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker!

Speaker of the House
Rep. Mike Madigan – (217) 782-5350

Senate President
Sen. John J. Cullerton – (217) 782-2728

Please also take a moment to call your State Representative and State Senator and tell them that you don’t want to see these important senior lifelines cut.

Rep. Naomi Jakobsson – (217) 558-1009
Rep. Chapin Rose – (217) 558-1006
Rep. Chad Hays – (217) 782-4811
Rep. Jason Barickman – (217) 558-1039
Sen. Mike Frerichs – (217) 782-2507

Sample script:

Hello. My name is __________________ and I am a resident of ____(city), Illinois____. I want to ask (Rep. or Sen.) ___________ to protect IL Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker from being cut. We should not be balancing the state budget on the backs of seniors and people with disabilities. Our state’s most vulnerable citizens rely on these programs to stay healthy and maintain their independence and funding them should be a high priority. Thank you.

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