Veterans home fees could be going up

By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

ANNA, IL (KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs is proposing to increase the fees veterans pay at the four veterans homes in the state.

"That's actually the forcing mechanism for this conversation, wanting to continue to provide the quality of care for the number of veterans we currently do," said Director Erica Borggren of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. "Rising costs and difficult financial times make this a pretty pertinent conversation for now. To look into whether or not we need to increase the maintenance fees that our residents pay."

The fee has been capped since 1979 at a maximum of $929 a month. And Borggren says the rate has always been calculated based upon the veterans income, and that wouldn't change.

"So we're talking about the cap here. What is the maximum that a resident would pay," said Borggren. "So we're looking to restore better balance then there has been over the past 30 years."

Veterans and their family members gathered at the home in Anna on Saturday afternoon to hear what the department was considering in an increase in fees.

"I'm still trying to maintain a home even if he's not there," said Paula Stairs of Cobden. "And it will affect my income as well as what he gets. I still have ongoing bills at home and his care here."

Family members asked the representatives with the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs to consider a 'grandfather' clause in any increases. Or possibly phasing any increases in over a three year period.

And the veterans say no matter what is decided upon, they're only asking for one thing.

"We're going to have to wait and see what is really going to take place. Who it is going to affect and who it isn't going to affect," said U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Huey Gibbs. "And what we're asking for is they're going to have to be fair irregardless. And that is the way we expect it to be."

The meeting in Anna is the first of four scheduled at the veterans homes in the State of Illinois. And any change in what veterans pay would still have to be approved by the Illinois legislature before it could be enacted.

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