Articles Posted in Residents and staff beware: If you sue or are sued, no insurance coverage

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Today great progress was made in advancing the rights of Illinois nursing home residents and their families. The good news comes in the form of House Bill #5213, which has the potential to improve nursing home care in Illinois by demanding accountability from Illinois nursing homes and long-term care facilities as a prerequisite to obtaining and retaining a license.

Currently, 20% of Illinois nursing homes don’t carry liability insurance. This means many Illinois nursing home residents who are abused and neglected in nursing homes cannot be compensated for injuries they suffer from a nursing home’s wrongdoing. Furthermore, facilities are not even required to notify residents and their families that they are uninsured.

Today, the House Human Services committee passed HB 5213 sponsored by Representative David Miller. HB 5213 provides that no person may establish, operate, maintain, offer, or advertise a long-term care facility unless they provide the Department of Public Health with proof of liability insurance in an amount not less than $1 million. HB 5213 also reinstates a provision that was removed from the statutes in 1995 that provides that a licensee shall pay treble damages (the greater of three times the actual amount of damages or $500) in addition to costs and attorney’s fees when the rights of a resident are violated.

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Profits come before protecting our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Nursing homes housing our nation’s elderly that are owned by private investment groups often put profits over people in operating their facilities, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The Times piece revealed that since the year 2000, 1200 nursing homes have been purchased by large investment groups. While investors of these private groups have been making millions from operating these nursing homes, resident care has declined. The model these groups have been following – reduce costs, increase profits and quickly sell. The consequences of implementing this model are decreased levels of staff and decreased budgets for supplies, activities and other resident services. Decreases in care and services provided to residents leads to nursing home abuse and neglect, a prevalant problem in our nation’s long-term care facilities.

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