The nursing home industry is quietly fighting a proposal by Gov. Pat Quinn that would raise minimum staffing levels in Illinois nursing homes, despite evidence that more staffing provides better care and improves resident’s health, CBS2 reported.
The Associated Press reports that talks among lawmakers, nursing home officials and elder care advocates are scheduled to resume this week in Springfield but getting the industry to agree to increase staffing levels appears to be unlikely. National studies continue to show more care-hours leads to improved health, fewer bed sores and less unexplained weight loss among residents.
Advocates also contend it could lead to higher-quality staff and less turnover among nursing home employees.
Currently, Illinois requires nursing homes to provide at least 2.5 hours of nursing care per resident per day. Those rules require about 31 certified nurse aides and licensed nurses per 100 residents. Quinn is pushing to increase the minimum to 4.1 hours by 2014 for residents who need skilled care and 2.8 hours for those who require intermediate care. Some homes already meet those standards, while others do not. Industry executives have said that facilities relying upon Medicaid could not afford to hire more people to meet the proposed requirements.
The governor’s proposal would also toughen oversight and raise fees and fines for nursing homes. As we reported earlier this year on our Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer blog, state officials have been scrambling to respond to a host of media reports and investigations outlining assaults, rapes and murders in Illinois nursing homes. The new proposals are part of the outcome of a special task force convened by Quinn last year.
The task force heard testimony about inadequate staffing, particularly at facilities serving poor and minority residents.
The across-the-board staffing increases are opposed by the Health Care Council of Illinois, the state’s largest nursing home trade group. Union leaders support the increase, citing a 2001 study that found 4.1 hours of direct-care per day improves the quality of care received by nursing home residents.
An analysis of more than 15,000 nursing homes in 50 states by the Chicago Reporter found Illinois’ for-profit nursing homes had the lowest average staffing level compared to those in other states.
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