1 mile west of the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall (800) 810 3100
“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.
Fighting to make a difference, is important and invigorating work, but in many ways it has been like taking on an additional job! There have been quite a few people who have been integral to our fight for senior fairness, including task force co-chair and renowned elder law attorney Kerry Peck; elder law attorney  (and my own daughter) Diana Law, who served as the task force co-chair and tireless advocate for rights for seniors; senior communications expert Jessica Bannister (a farmer’s daughter who is the webmaster and legislative chair for the Kendall County Republican Women); and our talented and highly regarded democratic lobbyist Michael Bauer.  We hope to feature some of these amazing colleagues in future blog posts, so that our readers can get to know and appreciate them as we do. And of course I can’t send out a post about what’s been going on over the past year without talking a little bit about my family.  Some of my readers know that I have been an avid horseman for many years, which is why I was thrilled to be able to buy my two oldest granddaughters (5½-year-old Lucy and 4½-year-old Daphne) their first riding helmets this winter!  I can’t wait to start riding with both girls this summer, enjoying some grandfather-granddaughter “horseplay.” Feel free to contact me at rick@lawelderlaw.com.  I look forward to catching up with you, keeping you informed, and continuing the conversation here at my blog!

Do you enjoy a chance to act like a kid again?  I sure do!  Recently I received an invitation to a Halloween party at Heritage Woods in Yorkville, Illinois.  My friend, Jane Johnson, is the marketing maven there.  Heritage Woods of Yorkville is a supportive living facility (SLF), more commonly known as an assisted living facility.  Residents of SLFs need a little help from someone with their everyday activities of daily living. I gathered up my costume and my four-year-old granddaughter Lucy and we headed off for the party.  Lucy was dressed up as Belle, who is better known as the “Beauty” in Walt Disney’s movie Beauty and the Beast.  Lucy was my date for the big party. When we arrived, we were greeted by the residents, the staff, and families, many of whom were dressed in holiday costumes.  As with most parties, it was lots of fun and there were way too many good things to eat!  Heritage Woods had a whole day of events.  The staff competed in a chili cook-off—the savory recipes were submitted by members of the local police and fire departments.  Not surprisingly, the dietary manager won first place.  (That seems to hint at the idea that the residents eat mighty fine!)  In second place was my friend Jane Johnson, the marketing director.  She had prepared her favorite “white chili with brown turkey” recipe. More than 75 residents ate chili, listened to music, and enjoyed the ice cream sundae bar.  After lunch there was music and even dancing.  All the employees were dressed in costumes.  Norma, who was dressed as “the scarecrow”, was voted first place for staff costumes.  The best resident costume was won by Joan, who was dressed as a witch.  The pictures in this blog tell the story much better than words. The only thing that surprised me was that many of the residents left the hubbub in mid-afternoon so they could catch a nap and refresh before dinner.  But a great time was had by all!  Thank you, Jane, for inviting me to a fun-filled afternoon at Heritage Woods of Yorkville.