Illinois State Budget: No Cuts, Raise Revenue!
"When people are unemployed, that is when they need healthcare the most!"
Carolynn Ediger, a leader of Jane Addams, feels alarmed and concerned about the proposed state budget cuts, because it affects her family. Her 52-year-old son, Steven Ediger relies on his medical expenses being paid by Medicaid, which faces a 1.5 billion dollar cut in funding. Steven, an artist, once had a painting business where he not only painted murals, but also performed specialty jobs. His life was drastically changed when he was diagnosed with tongue cancer. Carolynn explained that her son has undergone numerous surgeries that have removed most of his tongue. Steven has also undergone radiation to kill the cancer. In order to replace the missing tissue, tissue was taken from his left wrist, and left pectoral chest muscle. As expected, all of these procedures cost thousands of dollars, which fortunately have all been covered by Medicaid. Because of his health, Steven lost his business and no longer has the ability to work. He is currently unemployed and receives disability insurance. Steven is also receiving therapy that is helping him speak again which is also covered by Medicaid.
If the 1.5 billion is cut from Medicaid, Steven would not be able to afford his treatments and therapy, thus he would stop receiving treatment. “When people are unemployed, that is when they need healthcare the most,” stated Carolynn. What would happen to Steven if he stopped receiving treatment? “I think it’s going to cost him his life,” responded Carolynn. Her family does everything they can to support Steven, but they are among the working class who cannot pay for medical expenses out of pocket. Carolynn understands that only certain people will be affected by the budget. “The only people that are going to be hit, because of these cuts are those in poverty, working poor, and middle class, I don’t see the wealthy or corporations taking any hits on this at all.” She also has solutions to the deficit Illinois is facing which is having a “graduated income tax” and other means to raise revenue instead of making cuts to programs that, like Steven, depend on and if they are taken away, they will suffer and die.
"Why do you treat poor people as second class citizens?"
Sara Moore, a leader at Jane Addams is a recipient of the community care program that is going to be cut by 171 million dollars if the Illinois budget passes. She has had the same home care worker for the last 10 years. Her caregiver cooks meals, and helps clean around the apartment. Due to chemotherapy treatments, Sara’s feet are not in good shape and her caregiver helps alleviate the pain. From time to time her caregiver also brings meals for the both of them to enjoy and eat together on the weekends. “ She is lovely, I call her my angel.” Sara’s caregiver goes above and beyond and Sara sees her as part of the family.
Sara is worried about the cuts that could cause her to lose her caregiver “She would have to go, that’s what they’re saying.” Sara also receives a small amount for food assistance by DHS, which is also in danger of being cut. It allows her to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and once a month she buys meat. However what she receives is not enough. “I can’t buy a gallon of milk I have to buy half a gallon and make it last.”
Her doctor has also stopped seeing patients under Medicare, so she only goes for emergency visits, which cost $120 out of pocket. Sara is angry about the proposed budget cuts “When Chicago or Illinois is broke, it’s always on the backs of poor people.” Without her caregiver and without her food assistance she could not afford to pay for all of her expenses, which include costly medications. Every time sacrifices are made, those living in poverty always pay the price.
What would you tell governor Rauner? Sara responded by saying “Why do you treat poor people as second class citizens?” She urges other to join in the fight against the budget cuts by taking action. She has always attended rallies to fight for people’s rights even in the rain and with her limited walking mobility. “I can do that and feel empowered, I can’t sit here and feel empowered, which is one of the reasons I am with Jane Addams.”
"Without my insurance or my income, I would not be alive today to tell you my story."
I would like to tell you a story. I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 45 years old. There is a history of cancer in my family because of my mother and my aunt who had cancer. Due to that history, I was being monitored frequently. When I found a lump, my doctor did not believe me. I persisted, and when they found it was breast cancer I was devastated. I was lucky in one respect as I had affordable medical insurance and a decent income. I was able to pay for the cost of radiation and chemotherapy, and all other tests that my insurance didn’t cover. Without my insurance or my income, I would not be alive today to tell you my story. If I didn’t have that affordability I would be dead right now.
Even if healthcare is accessible to everyone, it doesn’t mean it’s affordable for cancer treatments. Without the breast and cervical cancer program covered by Medicaid, low income women will not only feel the devastation of learning they have cancer, but their lives may be devastated as well. As Judy has pointed out, the breast and cervical program covered by Medicaid, is in danger of being wiped out completely by governor Rauner’s budget cuts. Low income women who are now receiving treatment will be turned away, and women in the future who are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer will have no where to turn to for help. “They will not live to tell their story of beating cancer if they don’t have the breast and cervical cancer program.” Judy also has a message for Governor Rauner “The big message is no cuts to Medicaid, medical services, or any other programs. We must raise revenue by raising the income tax so that all people pay their fare share.”
"The rich get richer, and the poor stay poor."
Nona Young, a housing leader of Jane Addams has benefited from homeless prevention programs, Medicaid, and reduced CTA fair which are all threatened by governor Rauner’s budget cuts. She used to live in a bug infested building for four years in a small studio. When her situation became worse, she left and put in applications to CHA buildings. She was turned down by many buildings and as a result was homeless for a year. Nona wanted a place of her own, which she could call home. She was able to find an apartment at Hollywood House by accident. Her son was fortunate enough to receive a HUD voucher, but his application was sent to Hollywood House, which is a senior building. There were open apartments, but the rent was over $700, which was over Nona’s budget. “It would’ve taken all of my money.” The manager from Hollywood house called her to see if she was still interested in seeing the apartment it wouldn’t hurt to just look at it. Nona took all of her personal information and visited the units. She liked the building, but expressed her concern to the manager to which she responded by saying to bring an updated copy of her social security and took file out a CHA application. After everything was processed, Nona was able to get the apartment at a lower price.
However, these budget cuts will make it impossible for seniors and people like Nona who need assistance paying and finding a place to live since there is going to be a cut to homelessness prevention programs. “If they cut these services we are seniors and we as a community who are, low income, will be simply homeless or live in uncared housing.” She also receives Medicaid, which pays for her medications cost as much as she receives from Social Security. Nona is angry about the cuts and knows that the people who need these services are the ones most affected by the budget cuts that will only make things worse in Illinois. “Low income individuals will go through so much, these are needs that people need to survive, period! If they can’t get it one way and they can’t get a job, first thing they turn to is the unlawful ways of getting money and it’s going to cause problems.” Nona believes we need to “push the Robin Hood Tax” instead of making cuts to vital services. She also wants other to get involved “Call your representatives, and tell them you’re angry. Keep the survival of humanity going, people shouldn’t have to suffer.”
"Muchisimas personas viven de Medicaid, y no esta bien que lo corten"
(A lot of people depend on medicaid, cutting it is not right.)
Petra Cuevas-Fonseca is Areli’s (intern) grandmother who shared her Medicaid story. Medicaid helps cover Petra’s medical bills that aren’t covered by Medicare. For months Petra suffered from severe pain on her side, but doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. Little by little she started to lose feeling in her legs and required assistance when walking. Finally, an MRI revealed that she had a cancerous tumor on her spine called a Lymphoma. She was immediately taken to surgery to remove the tumor. After the surgery, she was given 20 radiations and 6 chemotherapy treatments. A year later, she still visits the doctor to have her incision cleaned where she was given chemo, otherwise she could get a blood clot or an infection. A nurse and a therapist visit her twice a week to check her vitals and help her regain the feeling in her legs. She also uses a walker for assistance. Medicaid covered all of these services, which cost thousands of dollars.
If her services are cut, she can’t go to the doctor, and she will have to stop seeing her therapist. Petra lives with her daughter who is unemployed and undocumented, who is uninsured herself, and can’t help pay for her mother’s treatments. Had she been forced to pay for the procedures, she would’ve died. “Yo creo ya me hubiera muerto.” Petra thinks it’s wrong to cut vital services, and says those living in poverty always pay the price. “Muchisimas personas viven de Medicaid y no esta bien que corten. A los mas pobres les quitan mas dinero.” Petra hopes Medicaid and other services won’t get cut otherwise what are people suppose to do? “Esperemos que sigan adelante ayudando, porque si no que vamos a ser?”
"hands off my free ride permit, hands off my medicaid, hands off all services!"
Jessie Avraham is a leader at Jane Addams Senior Caucus who is outraged about the proposed state budget cuts. The programs that directly impact her life are Medicaid and her RTA Ride Free Permit. She recently qualified for Medicaid, and it has made a huge difference in her life. She used to pay $104 monthly out of her Social Security for medical insurance, but thanks to Medicaid, that’s another hundred dollars back in her monthly budget.
Jessie also qualifies for a Ride Free Permit, which changed her life. She leads an active lifestyle and depends on public transportation to get around. “My gosh, the freedom that you feel when you have that bus pass and you can go anywhere you need to go. You could go grocery shopping or anywhere…and you don’t have to worry about do I have enough money to get there and back or, is my transfer going to expire.” Having these concerns can be stressful for seniors. “For a senior, that’s kind of a lot to think about…always looking at your bus pass to see how much is there, and are they going to reject you when you get on the bus because you don’t have enough money on your card.”
If people like Jessie, lost their Medicaid, or their ride free permits to the budget cuts it would devastating. “People will be in a much worse situation, some people may have to choose between buying groceries and buying medication.” It would be difficult for Jessie to afford the necessities to survive. “After getting my social security, and I pay my basic bills…after the first two weeks, I wouldn’t have any money for food or anything else if I didn’t have Medicaid and my Ride Free Permit.” She wants governor Rauner to stay away from vital services. “Hands off my free ride permit, hands off my Medicaid insurance, hands off all services!”
She is outraged that governor Rauner wants to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and low-income individuals. “It’s dangerous when people don’t get the services they need…to cut anything is unacceptable. Rauner doesn’t want to talk about taxing those who need to be taxed or raising revenue. It’s the ultimate insult to middle and lower income people who need services.”
Jessie urges other to join in the fight against the governor and other decision makers. “...We the people cannot allow them to get away with it.” Instead of making cuts to vital programs, Governor Rauner should be raising revenue from corporations and the 1%. “It’s insanity. It’s inhuman for corporations not to be paying into the system, when they’re making millions and people can’t eat, or can’t have the services they need at home, or can’t have the medication they need to stay alive, or can’t have the child care in order to work.” Jessie finishes her story with a message to Governor Rauner. “Governor Rauner, the amount of money that those cuts would generate is so minuscule, compared to the amount of irreparable damage that it would do in the lives of people."
"That's why we ask for help, to provide for our kids."
Olga Ibarra is Areli’s aunt and Petra’s daughter. She lives about an hour away from Petra and her sister, and visits often. Olga’s three children rely on Medicaid services. Ruby the oldest is 18, Daniel is 15, and Eunice the youngest is 9. She had been searching for a job for months “uno busca trabajo y no alla” stated Olga. She finally found a steady full time job, but it pays minimum wage. Even with a full time job, minimum wage is not enough to pay for medical insurance. “Uno no gana mucho con salario minimo, no alcansa para pagar aseguranca.”
What would you do if you had to start paying for medical services? Olga anxiously answered that she would probably go crazy from thinking about how to pay for everything. There are people out there who can’t even find a job. Without a job and without medical insurance what are people suppose to do with their kids? “That’s why we ask for help, to provide for our kids.” These services are a necessity, and children like her son and daughters, will die without them “nos vamos a morir.” People will have to make tough decisions like paying bills or paying for medicine “paga aseguranca o paga biles?”
She urges governor Rauner to think about all the people who will be affected by these budget cuts. She goes on to say that the 1% like governor Rauner never have to worry about paying for bills, or medicine. “Ellos estan ricos, no les apura nada.” Just like Petra, she knows that the impoverished always pay the price. “Los pobres mas pobres, y los ricos mas ricos.” With services like Medicaid, Olga and her family are able to get by and live another day “mucha gente la mayoria por al ayuda que dan ellos, uno sale poquito mas adelante.” She prays that the budget cuts don’t pass and governor Rauner listens to reason.
"You have to find a way to survive."
Dee VanPelt and Luella Barnett are both leaders of Jane Addams Senior Caucus who will be affected by Gov. Rauner’s state budget cuts. Luella Barnett is Dee’s caregiver. Luella was appalled when she learned about all the programs that are in danger of losing funding. “What are they trying to do to low income people just kill them?” As a home care worker, Luella is worried about losing clients, that means fewer hours she’s working and she could potentially lose her job. “We don’t make as much as it is.” Luella has retired three times, but each time she was forced to go back to work. When she retired, she only had enough to pay for rent. She couldn’t afford medication, groceries or co-payments. It became a choice of “Okay, what am I going to eat today, I think I’m going to have to get the medicine and leave the food… Okay so I said I have to go back to work, because I can’t go without eating.” These are choices only low-income seniors and individuals are forced to make. Luella knew there were people who needed somebody to take care of them, so she decided to be a caregiver. She cooks meals for her clients, cleans their homes, runs errands for them, and also accompanies clients to doctor’s visits. Due to governor Rauner’s cuts she may potentially have to look for another job “I don’t want to have to do that, but you have to find a way to survive.” As a senior who lives on a fixed income Luella doesn’t have the luxury to retire. Governor Rauner doesn’t understand the devastating effects theses cuts will have on people who rely on these services to survive. “He’s rich, he doesn’t understand anything about poor people.” “If you don’t have enough food, don’t have anywhere to live, you will die from not having enough.”
Dee can’t believe governor Rauner and the 1% don’t realize how devastating the budget will be for low-income Illinoisans. “If it takes so much money for them to live, how do they think we live on the little we get each month? They don’t seem to have a clue.” Dee has had hip surgeries, which makes it difficult for her to do certain things on her own. She relies on Luella as her caregiver to help cook meals and do other things around her home. If she loses her caregiver she’s going to be forced to do things on her own, even when she’s ill. Dee won’t be able to be as involved in the community either. Seniors and others who rely on caregivers will be on their own with no one to help them.
Dee cannot afford to pay for home care services. “All the things we depend on are being cut...we’re trying to make ends meet. When they cut one thing, you’re going to have less for medicine, and you’re going to have less for food.” She also pays reduced fare for CTA. With her physical condition, she can’t walk everywhere, so she’s going to have to find ways to get around if she has to start paying full price. Governor Rauner seems like he doesn’t care how his budget cuts will hurt others. “I don’t know how anyone with a heart can do this.” “If these cuts go through, we won’t be living anymore, we’ll be existing, and it will cause deaths.” Luella and Dee want governor Rauner to place himself in their shoes to realize how hard it is to get by, and raise revenue from the 1% instead of cutting from vital services.
"Income inequality is getting worse, and he is making the wrong choices.."
Marc is concerned about the state budget cuts, because not only will it affect him, it will affect his grandchildren. As a retired senior, Marc lives on a fixed income. His reduced fare CTA pass allows him the freedom to run errands necessary to live a life of dignity. If he was forced to pay full price, he wouldn’t be able to attend his frequent doctor’s visits. As a senior, Marc has many health concerns. In order to get around the city he would have to “depend on the kindness of strangers, or hitchhike.”
Marc has three young grandchildren who depend on state funded childcare and after school programs. Childcare and after school programs allow low income parents the peace of mind they need, knowing their children are being taken care of and doing constructive activities. If these vital services are taken away, their parents will have to cut back on work hours, or quit their jobs to take care of their children. Without any childcare support, they wouldn’t be able to maintain their jobs, which are scarce, and they would have to apply for food assistance.
Making cuts to vital services is a choice, but not the only one. Marcs knows that low-income people are the ones who end up paying the price when it comes to saving the state money. Governor Rauner should be making up the shortfall in the budget by “taxing corporations and the 1% rather than on working families and impoverished people who are struggling.” Mar has a final message to governor Rauner “when you make these cuts, more people will end up going to the emergency room. Instead of getting home healthcare, seniors will end up in nursing homes. It will ultimately cost taxpayers and the state more money in the long run. We live in a democracy, and everyone should pay their fare share. Income inequality is getting worse, and he is making the wrong choices when it comes to inequality.”
it's not fair to live off of $700 A MONTH."
Gale knows the proposed cuts are not fair, especially for those who live on a fixed income. “It’s not fair to live off of $700 a month.” Gale is angry that governor Rauner is trying to take away hers and other people’s services. She personally has a caregiver that helps her with everyday activities and she uses Medicaid for all of her health concerns.
Her caregiver, Lorraine Cooper is also in danger of losing services. As a homecare worker she could potentially lose her job. Lorraine also has children who are taken care of by state funded childcare services. If Medicaid were cut, her and her family would be devastated. Without a job, health insurance, or child care services Lorraine and her children would be homeless.
Gale and Lorraine are the few of millions who will be affected by governor Rauner’s cuts. It’s time we all work together and let our voices be heard by politicians and corporations.
"THIS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THE POOR, KIDS IN SCHOOLS AND THE ELDERLY."
Jackie from Ruth Shriman was shocked when he heard what governor Rauner wants to do with the state budget. Due to his mobility, he receives the CTA ride free permit that allows him to travel about the city running errands and going to doctor’s visits. Without access to transportation, Jackie would be homebound without being able to take care of his everyday needs.
He urges governor Rauner to think about how this will affect all communities of Chicago. “This will take away from the poor, kids in schools, and the elderly.” Jackie also uses Medicaid, and can’t believe governor rauner would take away medical services from people who rely on healthcare the most. Without transportation or access to healthcare Jackie's life would be in danger.
"If I didn’t have Medicaid, or my HOME CARE worker, I would end up in a nursing home."
“My name is Josie Hood and I live at 4040 N. Sheridan. I am angry about the cuts to programs. Instead of balancing the budget on my back, raise revenue from the wealthy, and corporations!
“I can’t afford to pay for my own medications and I have a caregiver, because I am disabled in one arm. I am only living on $700 a month! If I didn’t have Medicaid, or my homecare worker, I would end up in a nursing home, because I couldn’t survive.”
Josie wants others to join in the fight against governor Rauner, and his greed which is getting in the way of making the right choice to save programs and raise revenue.
"politicians should stop getting richer, and stop making poor people suffer."
Evelyn Ross is a resident of Ruth Shriman apartments. Evelyn depends on many of the services that will be cut; Medicaid, reduced fare, and Community Care. She doesn’t have enough money as it is, and if those services are taken away from her she will not survive. The consequences of cutting programs will be catastrophic.
Evelyn has a message for governor Rauner: “People will die, homelessness will go up. How are you going to cut funding for support programs, instead of raising revenue? That doesn’t make any sense.” “Politicians should stop getting richer, and stop making poor people suffer."
"Revenue needs to be raised, and large corporations need to pay their fair share."
Courtney’s family would be severely affected by the cuts to support services. Her grandmother relies on Medicaid, Community Care and, reduced fare for CTA. These are services she relies on for daily survival.
“Budget cuts would hurt me and my family, because we are already low income, and we depends on these services to survive. We are on a fixed income and are barely surviving as it is. Revenue needs to be raised, and large corporations need to pay their fair share. We attend meetings, rallies, and try to share our stories with others. We are all in the same situation.”
The Murphy family urges others to join the fight and defend support services for all of our communities.