Disability advocates say Illinois is lagging behind a national trend of moving people with disabilities out of state facilities into community-based care. By moving the 1,740 patients currently in those facilities into care at home or closer to home, they estimate the state could save $337 million per year, and provide a better quality of life for those with severe disabilities. Tony Paulaski, executive director of the Arc of Illinois, says this should convince people who have protested facility closures in the past.
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“There must be a reason why we’re about to have half the states in the nation without state institutions,” Paulaski said. “We know there’s a better way. We know that change is difficult. We know the past history in Illinois has not been the most thoughtful.”
Paulaski says he’s not advocating for particular institutions to be shut down, but rather a five-year transition period that may lead to the shuttering of all state institutions in favor of community-based care.