Advocates File Complaint Alleging Illinois Isn't Fulfilling Disabilities Consent Decree

Attorneys have filed a federal complaint alleging that the state of Illinois is not fulfilling its commitment to fund disability services as required by a 2011 consent decree, saying that a refusal to increase reimbursement to providers has caused a dramatic deterioration in the care of those with developmental disabilities.

Equip for Equality and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said in a statement that the state's decision to freeze the pay of providers for nearly a decade has forced homes and facilities to dramatically reduce the size of their staffs, which has left them unable to do little more than keep residents safe. They say an independent monitor consent decree has found the state has not complied with the 2011 decree for the last two years and are seeking to force the state to do so.

"People — who are supposed to be integrated into the community — are instead isolated and segregated," according to the statement, adding that staffing levels made regular trips out of their facilities impossible. "Instead of living full integrated lives, many of these class members are suffering enormous hardships, including social isolation...and in many instances, anxiety and depression."

But in an email to The Associated Press, Meredith Krantz of the state's Department of Human Services said the state disagrees with the monitor's findings, saying that Illinois has and "will continue to follow every court order" regarding the care of those with disabilities. Further, she said the state has "submitted all payments in question and look to the (state) comptroller's office to ensure they're processed."

"The (Bruce) Rauner administration remains committed to moving individuals with developmental disabilities, mental illness, or physical disabilities out of institutional care and into community settings while ensuring those individuals receive the best care possible," she wrote.

Illinois has operated without a budget for two years as Rauner, a Republican, and the Democrat-controlled Legislature remain at odds. However, most of Illinois' spending is on autopilot, including consent decrees.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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