A 2009 article in The Gerontologist showed that 2006 budget cuts to Michigan's state Medicaid community-living waiver program "were associated with increases in adverse outcomes: ER visits, hospitalizations, and permanent [nursing facility] placement." The study suggests that when we cut Medicaid waiver programs for persons with disabilities, these individuals cannot continue to live at home and require greater use of health services.
The Illinois legislature proposes changing the eligibility criteria for Medicaid community-living waiver programs, much like in Michigan. Let's be clear: this cut will backfire. It will ultimately cost the state more money through increased rates of hospitalization, ER visits and permanent nursing facility placement.
And I haven't even mentioned that there's more than balancing the state's budget at stake: in Olmstead v. L.C., the U.S. Supreme Court mandated a community-living option for all persons with disabilities. With three landmark lawsuits in Illinois recently settled under Olmstead (for mental health, developmental disabilities and physical disabilities), is the state of Illinois seeking to add a fourth lawsuit to the docket?
Associate Director, Center for Long-Term Care Reform
Health & Medicine Policy Research Group
(Originally posted in the Chicago Tribune "Local Voices" here)