In a bit of good news last week, Governor Pat Quinn announced that additional funding is being made available with the goal of cutting down on Illinois nursing home neglect and improving the well-being of seniors throughout the state. As noted in the Aledo Times Record, the Governor explained that $110 million in federal resources will now be made available to increase staffing and improve quality standards at statewide skilled nursing facilities. Considering the many problems reported throughout the state every day, each Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm appreciates the huge need for these sorts of improvements.
The funding comes per the work of the Governor’s Nursing Home Safety Task Force. The Task Force has been charged with improving the quality of care at all state facilities. The $110 million in funds will comes as part of a federal matching program, allowing the state to implements a range of reforms, hopefully cutting down on cases of Illinois elder abuse and neglect. Federal matching programs work by making available a pool of federal money only when the state is able to raise an additional level of money from its own efforts.
More specifically, the money will be raised by having nursing homes pay a provider tax. The tax is then pooled which together triggers the matching funds be provided. This program has been approved by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The money will then be redistributed to nursing homes to pay for increased staffing levels and other quality standard measures. This will hopefully allow the facilities to actually comply with the state’s nursing home reform laws which mandate increased staffing level increases and overall improvements in care.
On the state side the funding mechanism is being led by the state’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services. In addition to the federal matching funds, it was also produce an extra $20 million which should boost staff levels at the Illinois Department of Public Health. If all goes according to plan, those staffing increases should be directed to more frequent and thorough nursing home inspections. As we’ve often explained, many facilities face little chance of surprise inspection, meaning that their care deficiencies often go uncorrected.
In announcing the funding the Governor explained, “This is positive news for people who live in a nursing home or have a loved one in a nursing home. It means that our nursing homes get the funds that they need to continue improving safety and the quality of services that I signed into law as part of our nursing home reforms.”
As always, it will be important for advocates to keep a close eye on how these new funds are actually used. Most facilities, we hope, are dedicated to improving the services they provide and stamping out elder neglect. However, we know that there remain some nursing home conglomerates that always do everything in their power to increase their own pocketbooks. At these homes it is necessary to pay close attention to ensure the funds they receive are used in the best way possible for the benefit of the actual residents.
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