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Health & Medicine responds to cuts at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

On January 22, 2016  Lutheran Social Services of Illinois announced significant cuts to its programs in light of Illinois' ongoing budget crises. Health & Medicine (and many other groups committed to the health and well-being of Illinoisans) was dismayed by this development. A Letter to the Editor detailing our response to the cuts was published in Crain's Chicago Business. An edited version of the letter can be seen on Crains website here and the full text is below.

We were saddened and outraged to hear on Friday that Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) will be laying off more than 750 workers affecting vital health and human service programs for about 4,700 of the most vulnerable people in our State.  This happened because the State owes them over $6 million and our leaders refuse to find their way to a budget that funds services and programs for seniors, at risk youth, veterans and their families, and more. Health & Medicine has had the good fortune of working with LSSI and we know firsthand that they both embody a spirit of innovation in human services and are a vital component of care in our community, always giving more than is required and constantly striving to do even better.
 
LSSI is just one of the many providers that have been forced to lay off staff and cut services.  Our failure to fund essential safety net services will have sweeping financial consequences for our State. In the short term it will cost us more as people delay getting care and end up in emergency rooms, nursing homes, jails and prisons; the costs will be even more staggering in the long term to rebuild the State’s safety net—which has taken decades to assemble—as it further unravels each day. What the state desperately needs is bipartisan leadership towards good-faith budget and revenue negotiations rather than short term grandstanding at the cost of the health of the public and the fiscal stability of the State. Brave votes are needed to pursue revenue solutions to solve our long-term structural budget deficit. It’s time for the State’s CEO to take this responsibility seriously and fulfill the fundamental compact of our civil society.