New State Plan Aims to Reform Care for Developmentally Disabled

September 09, 2010

The State of Illinois lags behind other states in the use of community care for the developmentally disabled, but a new plan would bring Illinois in line with national standards by 2017.

The strategic plan for FY2011 to FY2017, issued by the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) of the Illinois Department of Human Services, aims to provide care in community settings rather than large institutions.
The plan sets 2017 as the target date for reducing the number of people living in facilities with more than six residents, large private nursing homes and state-operated residential centers for the developmentally disabled.

Illinois currently operates eight developmental centers with a total of 2,100 residents. The average annual cost per resident was $142,533, compared with $53,291 in private group settings of eight residents or less, according to a report by Governor Pat Quinn’s Taxpayer Action Board in June of 2009. These costs are borne jointly by the State and the federal government under the Medicaid program.

The new strategic plan states that Illinois would need to serve 8.9% fewer people a year in the state-operated centers to reach the national average rate of utilization by 2017. In 2007, such facilities nationwide served an average of 12.6 individuals per 100,000; in Illinois, the utilization rate was 67% higher at 21.0 individuals per 100,000. Illinois would need to increase the number of people living in settings of six or less by 5.5% a year and reduce the number living in private nursing homes by 2.7% a year.

Although the strategic plan sets specific goals, it does not propose steps to achieve the goals or indicate how much the plan might cost. Lilia Teninty, Director of DDD, said her staff is working on a first-year implementation plan, which will be presented to an advisory group on September 30, 2010 and then released publicly.

The numbers above suggest that the State could save money by closing state-operated centers. However, Governor Quinn in January of 2010 signed an agreement with Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees under which no additional state facilities could be closed through June 30, 2011. Howe Developmental Center, which closed in June of 2010, was excluded from the agreement because its shutdown had previously been announced.

The strategic plan also takes a hands-off approach to Misericordia, a private institution for the developmentally disabled with strong community support and formidable allies such as David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior adviser, whose daughter lives there. Misericordia “will maintain significance in our system,” the plan states.