Statement on Personal Needs Allowance (HB 2513 and SB 1405)

Approved by ISPC Chicago ​5/11/17

The Illinois Single-Payer Coalition (ISPC) Chicago supports HB 2513 and SB 1405 in the Illinois General Assembly. These bills would increase from $30 per month to $100 per month the portion of nursing home residents' social security income that would be retained by the residents for their personal use instead of going to the nursing home.

We support these bills for two reasons: reports from people who have spent time in nursing homes show us that they are needed; they are consistent with the principles and goals of the single-payer movement.  

ISPC Chicago members have heard from former nursing home residents that $30 per month is inadequate to allow them to purchase essential items that the nursing homes do not include in their services, such as toiletries, clothes, and transportation for shopping and social activities. Inadequate financial resources for self-care keep residents in a vicious cycle of having to purchase over-priced items from the nursing homes, further diminishing the value of their income. This enforced poverty is an assault on residents' dignity; it damages social bonds; and it directly impairs their ability to move from institutions into the community. 

By contrast, ISPC struggles for a health care system that values the dignity of each human life; and that also favors community over institutional living whenever possible, both because it is less expensive and because it's what people want. 

ISPC Chicago is concerned that many Illinois nursing homes are investor-owned for-profit. We object to residents being impoverished in order to increase profits for investors. We note, further, that investor-owned institutions have an inherent conflict of interest, since they are legally required to serve the interests of their shareholders, when the goal of all health care should be to serve patients; that for-profit institutions on average provide poorer care for greater cost; and that the nursing home industry diverts millions of dollars per year from safe staffing levels, just worker compensation, high quality food, and other resident needs to lobbying elected officials for their own financial benefit. 

The United States should save money on health care by passing and implementing a single-payer health care program, thus eliminating billions of dollars per year in wasteful bureaucracy and corporate profit. Meanwhile, nursing home residents who rely on social security benefits should retain $100 per month that they can use according to their own judgment, to provide for their personal needs and to transition to the setting of their choice. 

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