Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers, like all elder advocates, know that money is often at the root of senior mistreatment. Cases of intentional mistreatment occur often in our area-particularly intentional senior financial exploitation. However, in many more cases, elderly residents are hurt in our area because not because their caregivers want them to be harmed, but because they do not act reasonably to prevent harm. This mistreatment is caused by negligence, often because the caregiver does not have time to do all that needs to be done or is not properly trained to understand the best course of action in any given circumstances.
At the end of the day, money probably has more to do with Illinois nursing home neglect than anything else. This makes recent financial struggles even more worrisome for those of us concerned about well-being of senior residents in skilled nursing facilities. In order to save costs many public bodies (both the state and federal government) are tightening the belt with regard to Medicaid reimbursements. Medicaid funds most nursing home stays, and so the cost-cutting effort will affect these long-term care facilities.
For example, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News published a story last week discussing the state cut-backs in Medicaid funding. A study conducted by Avalere Health found that roughly half of states slightly lowered skilled nursing facility payment rates over the last few years. Several other states did not lower rates but froze them, so that they did not increase year to year.
However, the American Health Care Association has issued a new proposal to ease the fiscal impact of these cuts on the facilities. The plan, currently be considered by federal officials, involves incentives to nursing homes for preventing hospital readmission rates. The cost on public coffers is high when a nursing home resident is forced to move back in the hospitals from the skilled nursing facility. Therefore, if facilities can lower this rate (often simply by eliminating nursing home neglect), then public funds can be saved. Those funds might then be given back to these facilities to help with their financial situation. Conversely, if facilities fail to meet those goals, then they would face the Medicaid rate cuts. If successful, the program might both save public funds while improving the care received by seniors at these facilities.
Financial concerns affect every individual, business, and public entity. However, each nursing home abuse attorney at our firm believes that these financial changes cannot be used as an excuse by those who are charged with providing care for our vulnerable seniors. There are a variety of ways for these entities to maximize the resources available to care for residents. Also, tightening belts may mean that shareholders receive slightly less profit in any given year. But the well-being of residents must be prioritized over the complete maximization of profit for already wealthy business owners. There is nothing wrong with making healthy profits by running great businesses that provide long-term care. However, there is something wrong by hurting those who rely on your services in an effort to make that healthy profit.
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