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Epilepsy Services on the Chopping Block
Date:6/17/2009

State Budget Woes May Lead to Elimination of Specialty Care Programs

CHICAGO, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago is preparing to notify hundreds of clients that its programs aimed at providing individualized epilepsy and seizure care may soon disappear, if the State of Illinois's "50% budget" comes to pass.

These programs, which connect families and individuals with epilepsy to a full range of medical, clinical, social and support services, are among those being provided by the state's three Epilepsy Foundation affiliates. Each affiliate receives a share of an approximately one million dollar annual block grant through the Developmental Disabilities division of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). That grant, along with many others, is slated for elimination at the start of the State's 2010 Fiscal Year, on July 1.

In May, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn presented the General Assembly with a proposed 1.5% income tax increase, which he said was essential for closing a $9.2 billion gap in the state's budget. Though the Senate approved the increase, the measure failed in the House. The resulting "50% budget" scenario cuts funding for a wide range of community-provided services, including those offered by the Epilepsy Foundation. This move leaves the Foundation with few opportunities for the continued provision of services to the state's 129,000 people with epilepsy beyond July 1.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago provides over 10,000 hours per year of intensive, one-on-one case management for clients who face severe challenges living with epilepsy.

"These services are a lifeline to our clients," noted Foundation spokesperson Garett Auriemma. "But our ability to continue providing them is directly tied to what happens in Springfield in the next few weeks. If the budget passes 'as is,' these services will disappear, and our clients will suffer. Many rely on us for day-to-day survival--for job training, for access to clinical services, for legal and educational interventions. But that's all going away on July 1, unless the Governor and the General Assembly can work something out."

The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago (www.epilepsychicago.org) is the only comprehensive social service organization serving people with epilepsy in metropolitan Chicago. Created in 1946 as a grassroots effort in Illinois to develop resources for people with epilepsy, the Foundation serves 43 counties in northeastern and central Illinois, and is dedicated to the prevention, cure, control, and public understanding of epilepsy.


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SOURCE Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago
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