3/16/20 - Message to Providers from Secretary Hou: COVID-19

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Dear Partners,

We extend our continued gratitude for your work to support our community members during this crisis. We - together - are who others look to in times of challenges. Each day, we are asked to make difficult decisions balancing the best interests of our staff, community members, and those we serve. Last week we sent guidance regarding COVID-19 (the 2019 novel coronavirus) to you and your organization to help you continue to prepare and respond.

I am writing today with an important update on budget principles we hope will provide relief and reassurance as you move forward:

1. You will not be financially penalized if you slow or stop services during this emergency. Community-based human service providers will be held harmless and kept whole, to the maximum extent possible, as operations are diminished or temporarily suspended during this national and state emergency. Specifically:

a) From today through mid-April (and longer as needed), in the event fee-for-service billings are less than normal, IDHS is committed to providing capacity grant funding to make up the lost revenues from reduced billings to ensure the preservation of Illinois' social services delivery system and safety net.

b) In the event grant programs (fixed rate and expense-based) are asked to (or decide to) close temporarily, in response to COVID-19, IDHS will continue to fund operations.

2. Critically: staff who work for your organizations should continue to be paid.

3. Likewise, organizations taking on increased public responsibility during this time may receive additional funding commensurate with the temporary reorganization of services. On a limited basis, going forward, existing contracts may be amended to account for increasing needs for services on a case-by-case basis. Please contact your program liaisons for more information.

Every effort will be made by IDHS to continue the critical mission of our social service system.

Please note that we are working in close partnership with the Governor's office to provide input and ensure Illinois benefits fully from several federal aid packages that may provide related assistance, including small business loans and healthcare coverage relief.

More information will be coming soon on the above efforts - but we wanted to write to give you an update based on the current circumstances.

We will stay in communication with you as we learn more from our state and federal partners. You can always reach out to your program contact, or you can email us at IDHS.stakeholder@illinois.gov with questions. You can also find past communications that have gone out to providers on our website. Additional information is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health at their Coronavirus-2019 website and the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-889-3931.

As always, my team is committed to your well-being and to the health of all those we serve. Thank you for the work you do.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS