Illinois has long been called out for having some of the country’s highest eviction rates for the vulnerable residents of long-term care facilities, with some local homes nearly doubling the amount of involuntary discharges over the last year. Most disturbing of all is that these homes wrongfully evict residents who are suffering debilitating and sensitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Many residents will be left abruptly at a family member’s doorstep, outside homeless shelters, and in hospital waiting rooms, creating a complete disruption in the care they need to continue thriving.
Again, this year, patient advocate groups, lawmakers, and families have plans to push back since involuntary discharges remain the top complaint filed against Illinois nursing homes. In fact, Illinois’ long-term care ombudsman’s office has reported there were 911 such complaints received by its office in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. Legislation introduced in the General Assembly in 2017 under House Bill 3392 and Senate Bill 1624, would have given long-term care ombudsmen more authority to advocate on behalf of individuals and possibly lessen the amount of involuntary discharges. The proposed bills didn’t receive a full vote in the House or Senate.
Medicaid Coverage Creates Timely Opportunity for Homes to Evict
Although nursing homes and assisted-living centers in Illinois are allowed to discharge residents against their will for reasons that include mental and physical health, behavior and lack of payment, it is believed by many that insurance coverage may be the biggest contributor to high eviction rates.
Medicare reimbursement is only good for the first 100 days of long term care treatment. Once residents transition to Medicaid, they’re less attractive to the facility because reimbursements under Medicaid are also lower. Many residents will be evicted as their 100-day Medicare reimbursement period is ending, so that nursing homes can open up beds and take in more Medicare residents, continuing the cycle of eviction because of lack of payment.
Eviction Should Not Be Unknowing
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has an outlined a list of rules and nursing home regulations for discharging a resident but many residents and their families remain unaware of their rights. As a reminder, here are the guidelines and valid conditions for involuntary resident discharge:
- The facility cannot meet the resident’s needs
- The resident no longer needs nursing facility services
- The resident’s presence endangers the safety of others in the facility
- The resident’s presence endangers the health of others in the facility
- The resident has failed to pay
- The facility is closing
If you find out that the long-term care facility responsible for your family member’s care will be transferring your loved one or discharging them, it should not come as a surprise. As noted earlier, facilities which receive Medicare or Medicaid must give 30 days’ notice and all others 21 days’ notice. The notice requires the facility leaders to discuss plans of an eviction and must:
- Notify the resident and, “if known, an immediate family member of the resident or legal representative.”
- Be written in a language that resident and/or representative will understand.
The content of the notice should include:
- Date of proposed transfer/discharge
- Location to where resident is to be moved
- Right to appeal
- Contact information for the Illinois LTC Ombudsman program such as name, address, and telephone number
The facility must also provide sufficient preparation and orientation to residents to ensure safe and orderly transfer or discharge and have a post-discharge plan of care that was developed with the participation of the resident and his or her family. This will assist the resident to adjust to his or her new living environment.
Even with these rules, trouble too often comes into play because notice simply wasn’t given. When this happens nursing home residents become unexpectedly stranded without a long-term solution for care. Their health and well-being instantly become at risk.
If you need assistance to use your right to appeal an involuntary transfer or discharge, a nursing home attorney is the right person to talk to. During the appeal process, the evicted resident is usually outnumbered, so strong advocacy is needed. It’s important to appeal as soon as possible as a timely appeal could stop the facility from discharging or transferring a resident while the appeal is pending.
Recent Updates for Involuntary Transfer in Illinois
Several legislative moves have been introduced over the years to give these residents and their families a voice and platform in attempt to help reduce involuntary discharges and evictions of nursing home residents.
Illinois’ long-term care ombudsman, Jamie Freschi, was quoted in a February 3, 2018 news interview with the Peoria Journal Star stating that a bill is expected to be introduced this year that will, “update the Illinois Nursing Home Act to reflect the newly revised federal nursing home regulations in relationship with involuntary transfers and discharges. The legislation will also aim to close loopholes that currently allow facilities to circumvent regulations making it far too easy to be non-compliant.”
Last year, officials from the nursing home industry opposed similar legislation, which would have put into place new monetary penalties when nursing homes fail to give the required 30-day notice for an involuntary discharge and make it clear that the Illinois Department of Public Health has authority from the federal government to require nursing homes to readmit patients if a discharge is deemed unjustified.
Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Negligence Attorneys
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury or death as a result of an improperly handled involuntary discharge or eviction, please let the Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin and Perconti review the facts of your situation and advise you of any legal remedies you may have. As the rising number of involuntary discharges continues, its true Illinois nursing homes are getting away with evicting innocent and vulnerable residents and facing little, if any, consequences.
Our consultations are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our skilled attorneys. Click here to fill out an online request form or call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872.