CHICAGO-Following is the joint statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Terri Harkin and Access Living Director of Advocacy Amber Smock in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner's Friday veto of legislation to protect people with disabilities in need of overtime hours from their home healthcare providers:
"The system of home healthcare for people with disabilities has been built up for decades in bipartisan fashion, in collaboration with people with disabilities and workers. However, the Governor's veto of HB 3376 continues a pattern of undermining reasonable personal care supports to people with disabilities, as well as undermining the worker situation for the Individual Providers who provide care in the Home Services Program.
"His veto of House Bill 3376 will not save money, as the Governor suggested in his statement. It will not protect workers from unreasonable work situations. It fails to recognize that personal care is truly a one-to-one effort, and not simply a system where providers can rotate out on shift without forming a relationship with those they support. The veto will not increase the success of the program or add even a little to the dignity and independence of people with disabilities, who face forced institutionalization as a result of loss of care.
"The veto comes at a moment when the State is now implementing an updated overtime policy for Home Services Program customers and workers across the state. A new pre-approval process was made available, but only communicated briefly in writing to customers in April, without the accompanying needed forms. Those forms were only made available in June, and not publicized widely to each customers. As a result, of over 4,000 customers who could be eligible for pre-approval, less than 100 have tried to apply for pre-approved exceptions to the overtime policy. This represents a very subtle effort to ration care to people with disabilities.
"We reiterate to the Governor, state staff, and our legislators that we must find a way to provide overtime in the Home Services Program, in a way that recognizes the individualized personal care people with disabilities need, and the dedication of the workers who provide that personal care. The Home Services Program contributes to the economy of every legislative district in the state. We all deserve better."