Putting a price on senior healthcare is a tough call. On one hand, the state of Illinois has financial messes to deal with, on the other, cutting medical services could compromise quality of life. Rockford area seniors rally to let lawmakers know where they stand.
"This is something that we need." -says Amberwood Care Centre resident Georgia Giacone.
Georgia has lived at Rockford's Amberwood Care Centre for five years. She's very independent and fortunately doesn't need constant medical attention, but her voice raises up for others whose can't. Georgia says seniors just want equal treatment.
"Cutting out our eyeglasses and exams and our dental, I don't think that's very fair, because if you were out in the community you'd be going at least every six months to a year." -she says.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a series of laws called the Save Medicare Access & Resources Together, or SMART Act, in June 2012. It cuts medicaid in an attempt to save the system from collapse. The Health Care Council of Illinois says Illinois bit off more than the state can chew and now nursing home residents are paying the price.
"The goal is to get Medicaid funding for preventive dental care, for eyeglass replacement once a year and for foot care, or podiatry care, for everybody all the time." -says HCCI Executive Director Pat Comstock.
Comstock says HCCI representatives want seniors to feel like stars of the show, not just extras. So, activists are gathering signatures to send to Governor Quinn, but Amberwood Care Centre residents say healthcare isn't the only area where they're being short-changed. The state allows seniors $30 a month in spending money from social security.
"We would like to get at least $50 to $75 dollars a month because when you go out to shop which we do once a month, $30 doesn't go anywhere and it doesn't give us money left like if we want our hair done in the beauty shop or if there is something special we want to buy, like my granddaughter if I want to buy her something once in a while, or a birthday gift, or Christmas, that's hard on $30." -Georgia explains.
Legislators supporting the SMART Act say if it wasn't passed, the Medicaid program would be $21 billion in the red in just a couple of years.
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