Illinois Nursing Home Advocates Concerned Residents May be Neglected as a Result of New Law

Recent legislation that included Illinois nursing home Medicaid rate cuts has reportedly angered resident advocates across the state. Although nursing home industry spokesperson Pat Comstock, Executive Director at the Health Care Council of Illinois, stated the recently signed Senate Bill 2840 will not affect the level of care required by sweeping nursing home legislation that was passed in 2010, others disagree. Wendy Meltzer, Director at Illinois Citizens for Better Care in Chicago, said the new law’s staffing level requirements are not only confusing, but will also be tough to enforce. According to Meltzer, many long-term care facility residents will likely suffer neglect as a result of the law.

The nursing home reform legislation was reportedly introduced as a result of a number of newspaper articles regarding dangerous conditions and inadequate staffing levels at skilled nursing facilities located throughout the state. Although resident advocacy groups allegedly agreed to determine what sort of care facility employees would be used to meet the requirements of the new law after the legislation was passed, disagreements arose once the matter was before the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. In addition, despite that research purportedly demonstrates that 20 percent of nursing and personal care should be provided by registered nurses (RNs), the Health Care Council advocacy group allegedly disagreed. Instead of asking skilled nursing facilities to utilize federal matching funds to pay the estimated $105 million required to meet the suggested 20 percent RN resident care level, the Health Care Council reportedly argued that only 10 percent of patient care should be provided by RNs.

As part of recent state budget negotiations, the 10 percent RN care rule advocated for by the Health Care Council was adopted. Some believe the RN staffing level adopted is too low and disabled and senior residents throughout Illinois will suffer. Still, according to Comstock, many of the approximately 800 nursing homes in Illinois will be required to employ additional RNs as a result of the law. Resident advocates also argue that the way in which RN staffing levels will be tied to the overall nursing home reimbursement system may make it more difficult for inspectors to effectively determine whether a long-term care facility is adequately staffed. Meltzer conceded that RN staffing levels will increase under the law but she reportedly believes nursing home residents with dementia and other difficult to manage disorders are likely to suffer neglect.

Insufficient staffing levels are a frequent cause of nursing home abuse or neglect in Illinois and throughout the nation. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act required long-term care facilities to increase staff numbers in an effort to fully meet the needs of all skilled nursing facility residents. The law required all nursing homes in Illinois to provide at least 2.5 hours of direct care staffing for every resident by July 1, 2010. In addition, elder and disabled care facilities operating in the state must provide 3.8 hours of direct care staffing for each patient by January 1, 2014.

If you believe your friend or family member was abused or neglected while a patient in an Illinois nursing home, you should contact the dedicated lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. Our knowledgeable Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to help you protect the rights of your elderly or disabled friends and loved ones. For a free consultation with a capable Illinois lawyer, give Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.

More Blogs:

Top Nursing Home Violations in Illinois and Nationwide Now Available Online, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, December 18, 2012
Newly Privatized Libertyville Nursing Home Receives 14 Citations from State Inspectors, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, December 17, 2012
Additional Resources:

Patient advocates, nursing homes differ over new staffing requirements, by Dean Olsen, State Journal-Register


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