Nursing home, aging groups urge faster compromise on nursing home reform
SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Nursing home reform that is years in the making still appears to be stalled by negotiations. However, advocacy groups are urging for faster compromise as business as usual “jeopardizes” residents.
Illinois AARP, Leading Age Illinois, and Illinois Health Care Association urged a compromise between the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and Healthcare Council of Illinois. Both organizations field competing legislation earlier in the statehouse.
Advocates and HFS argue the current system for nursing home reimbursement by Medicaid encourages unsafe practices for homes and residents, such as housing multiple residents in a room. These tend to occur in high-Medicaid facilities and disproportionately affect Black and Brown residents, according to AARP.
“The current nursing home Medicaid rate system permits the bad actors in the industry to continue to profit as residents suffer,” said Rep. Denyse Stoneback (D - Skokie). “Sub-par and racially divided care is unjust. Our most vulnerable population deserves us all to be their unwavering champions and advocates.”
The current proposal, led by HFS, would change the way nursing homes are reimbursed from Medicaid to a system that pays based on care received instead of the estimated care. HFS said it ties payments to actual work done instead of paying for work that may be promised but never completed.
Their proposal would also incentivize hiring more staff by paying more based on better staffing levels.
“There is a measure with solutions and it is a gamechanger,” AARP Associate State Director of Advocacy and Outreach Lori Hendren said. “It will place - as is our hope - residents over profits.”
Earlier studies by HFS noted that facilities with a high concentration of Medicaid patients and low-staffed industry were making a large amount of the profits.
During the original negotiating process, HFS said there was a conceptual agreement between the department and nursing home groups about the reform. Then, HCCI introduced competing legislation against HFS’s original proposal.
The differing proposals are not very different, but they make key differences in how staffing levels are funded. HCCI said they felt like they had to introduce a competing proposal because they determined 50 nursing homes would be at risk of closure if the reforms were to go through. HFS refutes this claim, saying those nursing homes could become profitable with ”reasonable reform.”
Both parties said last week that they felt a compromise would be coming soon.
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