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A Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights

Under current federal and state laws governing medical care, patients are protected by a “Patient’s Bill of Rights.” When you go to the doctor, at least for the first ever visit to that particular doctor, you receive a copy of a bill of rights that details your rights to things like competent medical care as well as privacy when it comes to your medical records. For example, the federal Medicare program prescribes just such a list, as shown on its website. For example, it states that nursing home residents have the right to be treated with respect, to manage their own finances, be honestly told about costs, fees and services, as well as rights to privacy and of course information about their medical condition, treatments and overall care.

Possible New Legislation
In Illinois, recently, a state legislator has toured the state encouraging nursing home residents to demand their own version of a bill of rights that would be protected by state law. This legislator hoped to acquire signatures from residents in support of a state bill that would do just that. The draft bill, formally known as Illinois Senate Bill 3450, or the Nursing Home Residents’ Managed Care Rights Act, has already been passed, and is on its way to the Illinois House of Representatives where, once out of committee, it would be put up for a vote to make it law. It provides for the enactment of language that would provide rights of more freedom of choice for nursing home residents. For example, rather than a managed-care organization making decisions about who will provide resident care and where it will occur, residents/patients themselves would be entitled to make those choices.

Naturally, managed care companies oppose the bill as it would remove their control over the delivery and continuity of care to nursing home residents and patients. On the other side, however, the Health Care Council of Illinois supports the bill because of its improvement on the old managed care system. Such prior management “was envisioned only for acute care in emergency situations” and provided zero protection for consumers. In the old paradigm, after a patient was released from a doctor’s care to a nursing home, any decisions on treatment or prescriptions would fall under the purview of the managed care provider. Residents could even be transferred between homes at the whim of the managed care provider. Now, with this bill, patients would get more control over their care and choice of doctor. Their doctor’s decisions would prevail over any others so that patients could receive the care that a medical provider determines, as opposed to a manager at a desk. While the new system would be still a form of Medicaid managed care, it would nevertheless be vastly improved.

Understanding IL Nursing Home Resident Rights
If this bill passes the House and becomes law after the Governor affixes his signature, it will be important for nursing home residents to ensure that their rights are respected and that they benefit under the new provisions as they should. A resident’s right (and the family’s right in certain circumstances) to make important decisions and for their doctors to make important decisions on their medical care is the crux of this potential new law, and could continue to pave the way for improvement in nursing home care across the country, much as the Affordable Care Act has already initiated relative to homes receiving federal reimbursements.

Related Links:

Nursing Home Negligence – Wandering and Elopement

Elder Financial Exploitation in Aurora Nursing Home