After a federal judge admonished the State of Illinois in 2017 for failing to meet the requirements of a 2011 consent decree requiring more community-based services for the intellectually and developmentally disabled (I/DD) community, Governor J.B. Pritzker has proposed a $122 million increase in the state budget as a welcome but long-awaited response to addressing the problematic issues posed by the decree. Illinois also expects $7.5 billion from the federal government for pandemic relief. It is expected that Illinois will allocate some of these funds to address the remaining shortfalls under the consent decree.
A lawsuit was filed on July 28, 2005, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for the case that would become known as Ligas v. Hamos (05-cv-04331 N.D. Ill.). This litigation was filed by nine persons with developmental disabilities living in private, state-funded Intermediate Care Facilities for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (ICFs/DD). The defendants were the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the Illinois Department of Public Health
These nine individuals alleged that they were eligible for long term care through state-administered Medicaid Services but were forced to reside in large congregate care institutions rather than community-based facilities as a condition of receiving care in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Medicaid Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
On June 15, 2011, a consent decree was approved dictating that Illinois lacked services for the intellectually and developmentally disabled community and needed more neighborhood group homes of eight residents or fewer. Currently, the system serves 28,000 people with 18,000 more on a waiting list for services. For the six years following the consent decree, any of the approximately 6,000 ICF-DD residents who desired placement in the community would be permitted to transition to the most integrated community-based setting appropriate for their individual needs.
Finally, ten years later, Illinois is making some attempt to meet the requirements set forth by the consent decree. However, while Governor Pritzker’s proposal and the new federal pandemic aid are reasons for optimism, a study by the Illinois Department of Human Services determined that such an attempt at compliance would cost $329 million in 2021 alone, primarily to increase workers’ salaries. Currently, turnover statewide sits at 53% and substantially contributes to increased instability and uncertainty within the system that serves the I/DD community.
Fortunately, between the existing pandemic-related relief in the federal Medicaid match and the relief provided to the intellectually and developmentally disabled in the relief package, the usual rate of $51 in federal spending for every $100 spent by Illinois has been boosted to $67 for most of the fiscal year that began on July 1.
Advocates for the I/DD community continue to persevere for more funding. Because Congress has yet to set rules and guidelines for spending the allocated federal funds, many state-funded groups, including those serving the intellectually and developmentally disabled community, are optimistic about the availability of these funds to address past and current issues. How the State of Illinois responds remains to be seen.
Rubin Law is a unique organization with a solitary purpose. We are a law firm solely dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults who suffer from intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and mental illnesses. Rubin Law is the only law firm in Illinois that limits its practice to providing legal services and future planning for adults and children with special needs. We offer patience, compassion, and a special understanding to those with disabilities and those who care for them. For more information, email us at email@example.com or call 866-TO-RUBIN.