Illinois elder abuse and mistreatment remains underreported, frequently ignored, and rarely are those guilty held accountable for their actions. Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys continue to urge all those who suspect mistreatment at a local home to seek help to improve the care received by vulnerable seniors in the area. We know that ensuring that local seniors receive the basic care to which they are entitled takes a community effort, including family members, attorneys, advocates, and policymakers.
That is why it was encouraging to read last week in Forbes about new steps being taken by the President to crack down on poor nursing home care. As part of his latest deficit reduction plan from last month, President Obama has proposed forcing stiff new penalties on all those nursing home that allow their residents to develop problems requiring expensive hospital care. As blog readers are aware, quite frequently local residents are forced to undergo painful and costly medical care because of things like Illinois nursing home falls, preventable infections, and medication problems. While some hospital visits are unavoidable occurrences for those in deteriorating health, many others would be unnecessary if only proper care were provided by nursing home employees.
The President rightly noted that holding nursing homes accountable for their conduct does not have to cost more money, but, in fact, can actually save staggering sums. When poor care is provided to elderly seniors it is eventually translated into increased medical care being required. That medical care is incredibly costly, and it usually comes out of the pockets of taxpayers in the form of increased Medicare and Medicaid payments. The latest data reveals that roughly 40 percent of nursing home residents require hospital admission within their first year of living at an assisted care facility. A new comprehensive Kaiser Family Foundation study noted that roughly 25 percent of those admissions could be prevented. In addition, a congressional study recently found that 14 percent of patients who have to return to the hospital after being discharged to a nursing home could likely have avoided the hospital stay if proper care was provided to them.
To help prevent these instances of nursing home neglect (and save money at the same time), the President is calling for steep penalties to those home that simply send residents to the hospitals instead of providing the consistent, cost-effective care that they need to prevent problems from arising. The proposed penalties are steep. The worst performing facilities could lose up to 3% of their Medicare payments. However, as it now stands the penalty would only apply to Medicare payments, which affect those residents staying at nursing home for rehabilitation or recovery purposes and not necessarily those likely to stay in the facility indefinitely.
Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers applaud the efforts by policymakers to hold poor nursing homes accountable for the consequences of their actions. Better care for seniors does not necessarily mean throwing more money into the system. In fact, as this budget deficit plan shows, providing better care often goes hand-in-hand with saving taxpayer dollars.
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