Group files emergency motion after state fails to pay for disability services

An attorney representing people with developmental disabilities in Illinois filed an emergency motion Tuesday in federal court asking a judge to hold the state in "civil contempt" for failing to pay service providers.

The state Legislature's stalemate over the budget appropriation for the 2016 fiscal year, which began July 1, has jeopardized funding for many social service programs.

"It is inarguable that the situation is dire, as residents' lives literally hang in the balance," said the motion, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division in Chicago.

According to the emergency motion, "numerous providers will immediately close their doors, and thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities will not receive services that are essential to their survival" if the state does not fund programs and services for the state's 10,000 Medicaid-eligible people with developmental disabilities.

"Many of these individuals cannot feed, clothe, or toilet themselves or administer critical medication needed on a daily basis," the motion said. "The providers of these essential services are completely dependent upon the funding of the State in order to remain in operation."

The motion notes that the courted ordered in June that the Illinois Comptroller must "continue to make all payments for all services, programs and personnel, at a level no less than the levels paid in Fiscal Year 2015."

However, the Comptroller said Tuesday that the state does not have cash to pay its bills.

In a statement from Equip for Equality, officials said they want the state to show why it is not making payments, or be held in "civil contempt."

U.S. District Court Judge Janice Johnson Coleman will hear the case at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday.
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