At midnight on Halloween 2011, the State of Illinois began enforcement of the tough nursing home Medicaid benefit rules required by a 2006 federal law called the Deficit Reduction Act. The only good news I can share with you is that the rules could have been far worse. Thanks go to the advocacy and lobbying of the Illinois State Bar Association (thank you, Jim Covington); the Illinois chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA); and the Task Force for Senior Fairness (thank you, co-chairs Kerry Peck and Diana Law). If not for their efforts, thousands of innocent Illinois seniors who have made gifts to family members would have been saddled with penalty periods of ineligibility, causing them the loss of nursing home benefits.
I (Rick Law) never imagined I would become politically involved in the legislative and bureaucratic rules process. Diana and I are extremely grateful to those on the Task Force for Senior Fairness team who helped us communicate and advocate so effectively before the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a bipartisan legislative oversight committee comprised of six Democrats and six Republicans who are legislators of the General Assembly.
- Kerry Peck, Esq. of Peck Bloom provided the team with his wisdom and courage.
- Diana Law, Esq. demonstrated that she has matured into a negotiator who is velvet on the outside and steel on the inside.
- Michael Bauer served as our key political strategist.
- Jessica Bannister of Law Elder Law served as our Republican spokeswoman and communications angel.
- Jim Haertel, retired Director of Policy for Illinois HFS, sifted the wheat from the chaff.
The Task Force for Senior Fairness would also like to commend Illinois Healthcare and Family Services Director Julie Hamos and Jeanette Badrov, general counsel at HFS.