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Monday, June 3

June 2013 - State Legislative Update

Phil Milsk, NASW Illinois Governmental Relations Consultant

We are at the end of the spring 2013 legislative session. Adjournment is scheduled for midnight on Saturday, June 1, 2013. The fiscal year 2014 budget is pretty much done, Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has passed both houses and NASW's key social worker safety bill has passed both houses. The key remaining issues are state pension reform, freedom to marry, concealed carry of firearms, and gaming expansion. Summarized below are some key pieces of legislation.

SB 10 (Freedom to Marry)
This bill would allow same sex couples to legally marry in Illinois. It passed the Illinois Senate in February and has not moved in the Illinois House. The House passage deadline has been extended to May 31, 2013. There is a chance the bill will be called before adjournment but only if there are sixty members in the House committed to voting in favor. We will be watching this bill closely.

SB 2199 (School Social Work Internships)
This bill amends the Illinois School Code to remove a requirement enacted in 2011 that no internship or residency may commence until the student passes a content area test. This requirement created huge problems for school social work students during the 2012–13 academic year. After significant negotiations with the Illinois State Board of Education, it was agreed that this requirement would be amended out of the code. The bill has passed both houses and will be going to the governor.

SB 1609 (Social Worker Safety)
This NASW bill amends the Criminal Code to make it a Class 3 felony to make a threat against a human services provider or an individual’s immediate family member by placing these individuals in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint if the threat was conveyed because of the performance or non-performance of duty as a human services provider. For purposes of the bill, a human services provider means a social worker, case worker, or investigator employed by an agency or organization providing social work, case work, or investigative services under a contract or grant from the Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS), or the Department on Aging. The bill has passed both houses and will be going to the governor.

HB 213 (Human Services Budget for FY 2014)
The bill contains the fiscal year 2014 (FY 2014) budgets of various state human services agencies including the Departments of Human Services, Children and Family Services, Aging, Healthcare and Family Services, Public Health, and Human Rights. Generally this is a better budget than anticipated. There are 1% across the board cuts in grants as compared with the governor's proposed budget, with some area held harmless or getting slight increases. There is the expectation that the bill will eliminate the need for a payment cycle (carrying bills over from FY 2014 into 2015). Operations lines for each agency were cut 2.5% with agency discretion as to how those funds will be allocated. Additional funding is appropriated for new initiatives such as implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid Expansion, medicinal marijuana regulation (see House Bill 1), and a new Adult Protective Services program in the Department on Aging (see House Bill 948). This bill has passed both houses.

HB 206 (FY 2013 Supplemental Funding Bill)
This bill appropriates funds for various agencies to address shortfalls in funding for the current fiscal year. It includes funding to address shortages in the Department of Human Services budget for developmental disabilities services. This bill has passed both houses.

SB 26 (Medicaid Expansion and Other Healthcare Provisions)
This more than 680 page bill is, in part, an opt-in to the Affordable Care Act's provisions on Medicaid expansion to cover low income childless adults. (The US Supreme Court's decision last June in NFIB v. Sebelius made Medicaid expansion a state option.) This would cover an estimated 350,000 to 600,000 individuals in Illinois starting January 1, 2014.

Most of the text of the bill deals with nursing homes for individuals who are seriously mentally ill (IMDS, or institutes of medical disease); these institutions are also the subject of the federal court consent decree in Williams v. Quinn. The bill allows IMDs to recreate themselves and be licensed as specialized mental health rehabilitation facilities (SMHRFs) that would be able to capture federal Medicaid matching funds (unlike IMDs) to provide crisis, transitional, and rehabilitation services to individuals. The addition of the SMHRF language in a last-minute amendment split the advocacy community because many Medicaid expansion supporters continued to support the bill while a number of mental health advocates opposed it. The lobbying strategy by IMD proponents was obviously implemented to create such a split. NASW opposed the amendment adding the SMHRF licensure while supporting the underlying Medicaid expansion piece.

Also in this bill are some SMART Act/Medicaid fixes including the following: (1) removal of the 500% of poverty income cap for the Medically Fragile/Technology Dependent Children's program, (2) allow wheelchair repairs to be done without prior approval if under $400, (3) lift the four prescription drug limit for anti-seizure drugs, and other provisions. SB 26 has passed both houses.

HB 2262 (TANF Eligibility)
This bill provides that the Department of Human Services shall not count assets in determining eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This is an asset-building initiative of Heartland Alliance, the Shriver Center, and the Woodstock Institute. The bill has passed both houses.

HR 375 (Behavioral Health Disparities)
This is a Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois (CBHA) resolution that urges the governor to empower individuals and communities where behavioral healthcare disparities exist through the creation of pilot programs for health homes, systems of care, and essential community behavioral healthcare providers, standardized data collection, and analysis methods regarding the impact on racial, ethnic, and rural healthcare disparities. The resolution was approved by the House Human Services Committee and is pending a House vote.

SR 257 (2013 Farm Bill)
This resolution urges the Illinois Congress to develop a Farm Bill that protects and strengthens federal food and nutrition programs. The resolution was adopted by the Illinois Senate.

Posted on 06/03/13 at 11:01 AM

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