DCFS Data Reveals Confirmed Illinois Child Abuse, Neglect Projected to Drop 27% Since 2008

Posted May 1, 2012 by Marge Berglind
Categories: DCFS

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(Springfield, IL) – May 1, 2012. Illinois child welfare advocates today released an analysis of state child welfare data and hailed a projected 24% drop of confirmed child abuse and neglect in Illinois since 2008.

Analysis of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

“Our review of the Illinois Department Children and Family Services data reveals concretely what we in the field knew intuitively–Illinois children are safer today than they were even just four years ago,” said Margaret Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

According to the group’s review of the data, there were 29,802 cases of confirmed child abuse or neglect in Illinois in fiscal year 2008, and by annualizing the first seven months of fiscal year 2012 data, there will be 21,720 confirmed cases, which constitutes a 27% decrease.

“We are on our way to see a 27% decrease in child abuse and neglect in Illinois,” said Berglind. “That accomplishment is due to combined efforts of DCFS and private child welfare agencies to continue to implement the reforms that began in 1995.”

Berglind noted that the DCFS data is on track to reveal child safety progress on multiple fronts, including child sex abuse, substance abuse-exposed babies, and child deaths.

“If the current trends continue, child deaths, as a result of abuse or neglect, are set to fall by 60%,” said Berglind. “This good news confirms that the Illinois child welfare system is effectively doing its job–which is protecting children.”

Berglind also noted that there are fewer children in state care. Illinois has reduced its child caseload from nearly 51,000 from 1997 to 18,413 in 2012—a 63% reduction in the foster care caseload compared to a national reduction of 24%.

Additionally, More children have been placed in permanent homes. More than 40,000 children moved out of foster care to adoption and guardianship over the last decade, Berglind noted.

However, Berglind did sound a cautionary note that Illinois’ protection progress could be jeopardized if the Illinois General Assembly further cuts the DCFS budget by more than the $44 million recommended by Governor Pat Quinn.

“While the Illinois General Assembly and DCFS have implemented legislative and program reform to overhaul the Illinois child welfare system, the state’s performance is still significantly governed by eight court consent decree settlements,” said Berglind. “If the legislature cuts the DCFS budget too deeply, the state risks undermining the safety of children and risks court action.”

In 2008,  the state provided $897 million of its own money to DCFS. For next year, Quinn is proposing to spend only $746 million of general revenue money, or a 16.8% reduction.

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Gov. Pat Quinn Proposed Illinois Medicaid Cuts to Cost Illinois Economy $3.2 Billion, Report Says

Posted April 26, 2012 by Marge Berglind
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(Springfield, IL) – Two health-care advocacy groups are predicting thousands of job losses and billions of dollars in economic damage to Illinois, if Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to conjure $2.7 billion in savings from the Medicaid program is implemented.

Quinn’s plan would jeopardize 25,615 jobs and cost the state’s economy $3.2 billion, according to a report released Wednesday by the Illinois Hospital Association, which lobbies for Illinois hospitals, and the Campaign for Better Health Care, an organization that advocates for health-care access

“Drastic Medicaid cuts hurt everyone, not just the Medicaid patients. Hospitals will be forced to reduce jobs. Local businesses will be impacted,” Illinois Hospital Association President Maryjane Wurth said.

“And hospitals will be forced to cut or eliminate medical services that everyone uses — there is not a separate set of staff, equipment and facilities just for Medicaid patients.”

Quinn’s proposal reduces the amount Medicaid providers get paid by $675 million, accounting for 25 percent of the $2.7 billion in savings.

Nearly every dollar of the $6.6 billion the state spends on Medicaid goes to providers. Cutting provider reimbursement’s by $675 million translates into an across the board rate reduction of 7 percent to 9 percent for providers, according to Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan.

Callahan said that in the end it wouldn’t be a blanket rate cut. Some providers would see rates reduced by more than 9 percent, while others might avoid a rate cut all together.

“That still is something that’s being worked out,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. “These are tough choices, but the reality is that (the) entire Medicaid system will collapse, which would be far worse, if we do nothing.”

Anderson pointed out that Quinn’s plan actually doesn’t seek $2.7 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program. Instead, it calls for:

  • Cutting $2 billion in services and what Medicaid providers are paid,
  • Raising the state’s cigarette tax by a dollar, from 98 cents to $1.98.

The tax hike is expected to yield $337.5 million, plus a federal match of $337.5 million for that tax increase, all of which would cover the rising cost of Medicaid, according to Quinn’s office.

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As Illinois Medicaid Costs Grow, State Rep. Patti Bellock Says Federal Government Blocking Illinois Changes

Posted January 31, 2012 by Marge Berglind
Categories: Illinois Budget

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(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ difficulties reining in its pension costs are expected to pale in comparison to its efforts to control Medicaid costs.

A new report released Monday from the Civic Federation, a Chicago-based nonpartisan policy group that focuses on state spending, predicts Illinois’ Medicaid costs will skyrocket over the next five years.

Laurence Msall, federation president, said lawmakers and governors have spent Illinois into a deep hole by expanding Medicaid, which provides health-care coverage to low-income families.

“What is most frightening is that even after the income tax, the state was not able to pass a budget to fully fund Medicaid,” Msall said, referring to a 67 percent personal income tax increase and a 48 percent corporate income tax increase in January 2011.

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Illinois Budget Squeezed, Treasurer Dan Rutherford Says Illinois Cannot Afford $6 billion Pension Payment

Posted January 9, 2012 by Marge Berglind
Categories: Illinois Budget

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois will be facing an $800 million deficit within three years, despite tax revenue projected to grow by more than $1 billion a year.

Illinois’ fiscal reality is bleak, said Kelly Kraft, the governor’s budget spokeswoman.

“These projections clearly demonstrate that action must be taken to control not only Medicaid costs but also (pension) costs or all other areas of government will continue to be squeezed,” Kraft said in a statement.

Quinn on Tuesday released his three-year budget projection in which Illinois in fiscal 2013 is expected to spend $33.7 billion, about $1.5 billion more than this year. By fiscal 2015, Illinois’ expenditures will reach $34.2 billion, or $2 billion more than the current budget.

The governor’s fiscal outline is part of the state’s Budgeting for Results initiative. Lawmakers created this process in 2011 to force the governor to craft a realistic budget within the financial means of the state.

The majority of the additional spending will be on public employee pensions.

Quinn’s own numbers project an $818 million deficit by 2015, even after holding spending flat on Medicaid, elementary and high school funding, and state government services.

Illinois’ pension payment jumps $1.1 billion in fiscal 2013, from $4.2 billion this year to $5.3 billion. By 2015, Illinois will be making an annual pension payment of $5.9 billion.

Republican State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said the state cannot afford a nearly $6 billion pension payment.

“If we don’t respond to the spending increases built into the governor’s budget for public pensions, Illinois is going to face a major cliff,” said Rutherford.

The treasurer said lawmakers are going to have to lower the pension costs for current state employees, despite the stance by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s office that legislation to alter current pension benefits is unconstitutional.

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Illinois Taxpayers Gave State Government a $1.2-billion Shot of Cash in August

Posted September 9, 2011 by Marge Berglind
Categories: Illinois Budget

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(Springfield, IL) — Taxpayers gave Illinois a $1.2-billion shot of cash in August, or $464 million more than last August.

Personal income tax revenue jumped by 68 percent for last month when compared with the same time in 2010, almost mirroring the personal income tax increase of 67 percent approved in January, according to a report issued by the Legislature’s Commission on Government Accountability and Forecasting, or COGFA, this week.

Overall, the state’s revenue jumped from $1.9 billion in August 2010 to $2.2 billion last month, an increase of 13 percent.

However, focusing on the month-to-month numbers won’t give an accurate picture of the state’s fiscal health, said Jim Muschinske, COGFA’s revenue manager and author of the August revenue report that outlines Illinois’ finances.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, and I don’t get excited over one month. There is just too much that happens on a month-by-month basis,” Muschinske said.

For example, income tax receipts from July through December, or the first half of fiscal 2012, might show big gains compared to last year. But those increases are only because of the income tax increase, and not because the state’s workforce or economy is doing better, according to the COGFA report.

The state also got a one-time shot of $73 million relating to the selling of a permit for and opening of the state’s 10th riverboat casino this summer in Des Plaines.

Higher revenue for August flowed in despite the state collecting less money from the federal government. The end of the federal stimulus package and the state’s extension on paying its social service vendors caused a decline of federal funding by $264 million, or 66 percent less, to $135 million last month compared with $399 million last August.

For the entire fiscal year, the state will lose about $1 billion in federal funding, Muschinske said. Under the federal stimulus, for every $2 the state spent on Medicaid, the federal government kicked in $1.20. But that extra 20 cents has been phased out, along with the strings attached to it.

“What happened under the stimulus plan was that the federal government said ‘we’ll give you the higher matching rates, but in order to qualify, you are going to have to pay (social service) providers in 30 days. That’s far quicker that we’ve ever paid before,” Muschinske said.

“Now that the match is gone, part of the way to manage our resources was the decision to allow approximately $1 billion in bills to be pushed back and the payment cycled moved to more historic levels” of 60 to 90 days, he said.

The state now has overdue bills from social service providers, schools and others totaling $3.8 billion, said Brad Hahn, spokesman for the state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s Office.

Legislators, when crafting the $33-billion operating budget for the state, said that any extra revenue would go toward paying off the state’s backlog of bills.

However, Gov. Pat Quinn has said the budget sent to him doesn’t contain enough spending to operate at least 12 state agencies through the end of the fiscal year.

Andrew Thomason, Illinois Statehouse News

Will Governor Pat Quinn Sign Illinois Budget on Thursday?

Posted June 28, 2011 by Marge Berglind
Categories: Illinois Budget

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(Springfield, IL) — Gov. Pat Quinn may sign the 2012 state budget Thursday, but the spending plan is not a one-and-done deal.

“The budget is an on-going process,” said Quinn. “We have to work on it 365 days of the fiscal year.”

Quinn, who introduced a nearly $36 billion budget, said he is not happy with the $33.4 billion spending plan that Illinois lawmakers sent him, and he wants more spending in education and human services.

But while Quinn can shift around money in the budget, he cannot order more spending, said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

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As Federal Medicaid Aid Ebbs, Illinois Aims to Pay $1.8 Billion in Bills by June 30

Posted June 23, 2011 by Marge Berglind
Categories: Illinois Budget

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(Springfield, IL) — Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday approved a plan to delay a $365 million payment into Illinois’ rainy day fund, and instead use that money to pay some of the billions of dollars Illinois owes to Medicaid providers.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said the state is racing to maximize a federal Medicaid match that expires at the end of the month. Illinois is getting 57 cents on the dollar for qualifying Medicaid bills that it pays this month. Starting in July, that rate falls back to the normal 50 cents on the dollar.

Maximizing the $365 million, Topinka said, should allow her to pay $1.85 billion in Medicaid bills by June 30. She estimates Illinois could receive an extra $90 million to $100 million from the federal government.

“The Medicaid match did not solve all of our problems, but is sure as heck helped,” said Topinka. “And come the 30th of June, we lose that help, and we’ll be out there on our own.”

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