April 28, 2012

Medicaid Cuts May Lead to More Illinois Nursing Home Neglect

by Levin & Perconti

Nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are often used interchangeably. However, each generally refers to injury caused by others with different degrees of culpability. Abuse is usually intentional. This involves care workers who intentionally physically, sexually, or financially harm a senior. In these situations the care workers know exactly what they are doing and consciously decide to harm the elder in their care. This is distinct from nursing home neglect which usually does not refer to intentional harm but inadequate care that ultimately leads to harm. Care workers in these situations do not necessarily know that a resident will be harmed by their actions (or lack of actions), but the harm occurs all the same.

Each Chicago nursing home lawyer at our firm understands that negligent conduct is a more far-reaching problem, because it likely occurs in big and small ways in nearly all local facilities. This is because one of the main reasons for neglect is the issue of understaffing. In an effort to maximize profits, many long-term care facilities do not have enough direct care workers in the facility at any given time. This means that residents are not necessarily getting the close care that they need. Pressure sores, malnutrition, dehydration, falls, resident-on-resident attacks, and other harms often befall residents in those situations.

Money is a root problem in so many cases of Illinois nursing home neglect. That means that changing to funding schemes that affect these homes may trickle down and affect that actual care at the home. For example, proposed cuts to the Illinois Medicaid system are raising the concerns of many local senior care advocates for that very reason. Most seniors in long-term care centers rely on Medicaid support to help pay for the high-cost of these skilled nursing facilities.

A recent letter published in the Chicago Tribune by a representative for the Center for Long-Term Care reform touched on the potential consequences of the cuts. The letter argues that while cuts to the Medicaid are motivated by a need for cost savings, the actual consequences of the actions may result in even more expensive care. The letter pointed to the consequences of similar actions in Michigan. An article on the Michigan example found that Medicaid cuts “were associated with increases in adverse outcomes; ER visits, hospitalization, and permanent [nursing facility] placement.’

In other words, cuts to the program hit those with disabilities and seniors the hardest. The health of these community members suffered, ultimately resulting in more expensive care being needed.

Each Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm appreciates that one of the big concerns about the proposed cuts are changes to the eligibility rules for Medicaid community-living waivers. Residents who need help may no longer get it. This may very well have serious consequences with medical needs being untreated until they develop into much more serious (and costly) problems.

According to the Tribune letter, there are also serious legal implications by these cuts. Following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, the state is required to provide community-living options for certain individuals with disabilities. Changes to the Medicaid system may eliminate that option, perhaps sparking yet another lawsuit.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Medicaid Fraud Targeting Vulnerable Chicago Senior Citizens

For-Profit Nursing Homes May Be Overcharging Medicare