Friday, October 19, 2012

A.L.E.C. & Patti Pt 2

“It’s a very sad day when a Democratic General Assembly will make cuts on the backs of children…I don’t think the way to balance the budget is to make children uninsured.”  - Anne Marie Murphy, Executive Director Chicago Metropolitan Breast Cancer Task Force (   

And in each and every meeting she had with me, our staff and with the working group, she would bring more reforms and cuts for consideration.  I truly believe without our team member, Patti Bellock, at the table the Medicaid package would have been so much weaker than then what was signed into law.”  - House Republican Leader Tom Cross 

Crocodile Tears (“Patti & the Poor”) Pt. 2

IdiomCrocodile tears describe a false or bogus pretense of grief or sadness over a decision or action.  “It is proverbial that a crocodile moans and sobs like a person in great distress in order to lure a man into its reach, and then, after devouring him sheds bitter tears over the dire fate of its victim” (Charles Funk.  Hog on Ice & Other Curious Expressions. Harper Colophon.  1985.) Even Shakespeare describes this common, colloquial belief in his works on more than several occasions.

ON The Passage of the Medicaid Bill (SB2840)

“Some of my best friends” are not homeless, but a good number of my friends are.  After working in homeless shelters and acting as a site manager for many years, I have come to know too many people who try to exist on the street during the   most intemperate conditions.  The winter is indeed a harsh mistress.  On the coldest evenings, we all eat together, talk together, argue sports trades, discuss good and less-than-good movies, question politics, tell a joke, share a story…in short, we are just people – except for my better fortune.  By and large, what separates my friends and me is not necessarily “There but for the grace of God”; more likely it is  “There for the grace of not having a medical catastrophe…”   In almost every case, there were no nets to catch my friends from the “outrageous slings and arrows” of tumors, diabetes, stroke, aneurism, and so on.  I might tell you, after Governor Quinn’s signature on the latest Medicaid cuts brought to you by ALEC-award-winning Rep. Patti Bellock (Westmont) and Heather Steans (Chicago), winter could be especially cruel this year. 

In June, Governor Quinn signed into law several bills that will enact huge cuts to the health care services and Medicaid programs which deprive hundreds of thousands of Illinois’ lowest income classes of residents from services and assistance starting last month in July.  Total costs “saved” may include nearly $2.7 billion in multiple layers (  That’s a lot of money – and it’s more than a lot of people.  Here’s what’s going to happen:

Nearly 3000 – 4000 children will be removed from the universal income eligibility for offspring, a politically unwanted and orphaned child of ex-Governor Blagojevich – albeit a saving grace to thousands of lower income families before his fall from grace (www.

More than 25,000 parents lost Medicaid coverage as of July 1, 2012.  A bit more than the population of Representative Bellock’s constituency in Westmont, Illinois.

 According to reporter Christian Davion, $15 million provided for critical medical and in-home nursing will be cut for families, which will now face insurmountable medical costs for full-time hospitalization [rather than home ventilators, oxygen, feeding tubes, etc.] (   

Another $72.2 million will be cut by eliminating Illinois Cares Rx, the state program that offers prescription drug discounts to over 180,000 citizens from low-income households who are elderly and/or suffer from disabilities.  (www. 

Family Care for those families (two person household) making more than $20,000 annually will see their access to assistance stopped immediately. 

While this may seem injurious to those in the shady area that hovers just above a basic $20,000, Republican Senator Dale Righter of Matoon, IL, rationalizes this as an appropriate line in the sand:  “We need to incentivize the providers to make the Medicaid population healthier.  To me, this is about pay for performance”  (www.  In other words, let’s target the most desperate cases while eliminating the merely needy.  With that logic, those struggling people working at basic service jobs earning just over $20,000 annually are doing well enough to no longer deserve medical assistance, even if they have kids.

Podiatric services will also be curtailed – unless you can prove you are diabetic.  My homeless friends slog through the deepest and coldest wet snows without work (while looking) and without footwear (desperately looking), and limp their way into shelters each evening.  Want to hide out in the library? – Not allowed.  Go to an emergency room? – Not for long.  Stand in a foyer? – Keep moving.  The bottom line is stay on your feet all day and keep walking.  Now, if you’re not a proven diabetic with paperwork - No more medical assistance. 

Sadly, there’s more.  Nursing Care advocates also warn that this bill will jeopardize nursing home care as a result of cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing home operators.  Behind closed doors, state officials working on the bill to cut Medicaid costs agreed to lower the set levels of care that had existed prior to the bill’s passage for care standards.  That’s right, reduced standards.  State Senator Jacqueline Collins noted, “They did an end run around the process.  It was a disservice to the democratic process.  Clout, money, and influence determined the outcome” (

Of course, some of our “indigent and chronic” are not without mental issues.  Did you think our legislators would find some port in the storm of cuts for anyone hearing voices in his head?  “The National Alliance on Mental Illness has ranked Illinois as the number one state in the US for budget cuts to mental health services for 2011, with the state having eliminated 31 percent of its total budget since 2008.  Including Quinn’s latest proposal for an additional 40 percent in cuts from state mental health programs, which includes shutting down six of the state’s twelve remaining mental health facilities.  Illinois will have cut over 71 percent of its funding for mental health services and programs over the past five years” (

Sorry, my friends.  And, if it is the “winter of their discontent,”
not to worry; they are so marginalized and without any political enfranchisement that whatever pain falls on them will not make a mite of difference to the rest of us. 

August 17th will provide the Illinois General Assembly a chance to move toward pension reform – like they did for Medicaid reform – after failing to make payments to the pensions for nearly 60 years.  This last Medicaid bill will result in a loss of nearly $1.35 million in Federal funding for Medicaid and the coffers in Illinois, as well as a consequent impact upon the employment of nearly 250,000 people in the state medical systems ( ).

Imagine what they can do to the machine that provides over $4 billion in economic energy a year in Illinois.  Say a prayer – for yourself and my friends.  

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