Navigating Political Rapids! (or why I have been paddling and not blogging!)
“Legislators Block Proposed Illinois Nursing Home Medicaid Rules”—that was this morning’s newspaper headline in our state capital. That headline would not have happened except for major efforts on the part of our legal/political/lobbying team. Here is a little background: Last year, I needed to take a break from blogging so we could create a team to lobby in defense of the frail and the elderly citizens of Illinois. We had not planned on taking a one-year-long blogging hiatus—but when the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (IHFS) proposed its first draft of Medicaid rules changes in May of 2010, we felt the regulations were critically important enough to give it our full attention. And give it our full attention we did! We created the Task Force for Senior Fairness. The task force included concerned attorneys from all over the state of Illinois and the Cook County Public Guardians Office. We have worked alongside the Illinois Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). With this amazing group of people we have been able to achieve far more than we had initially thought possible, including:
- Hiring a capable lobbyist to help us communicate an understandable message to our legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (which administers Medicaid).
- Convincing legislators that while overhauling the Medicaid rules must be done in compliance with new federal law, it would be unfair to make the new Illinois Medicaid rules more harsh than the federal mandate.
- Creating a website (www.DontHurtGrandma.com) to help deliver information to politicians as well as to public interest groups and the average concerned citizen.