That state of Illinois is in a financial pickle. For quite a few years policymakers in Springfield have been trying to better ensure the state lives within its means. The basic problem is something that all local residents understand-the state is paying out more money than it is taking in. When it comes to state government, the revenues come from a range of taxes, including state income and sales taxes. The expenditures include a wide range of government issues but some of the largest portions are things like payment for state employee pensions and healthcare costs for those using Medicaid.
Our Illinois nursing home lawyers appreciate that local seniors have a lot at stake when it comes to these issues. Proposed cuts to balance the budget and fix the state’s financial mess will undoubtedly affect many seniors. At the end of the day, certain changes might have to be made to ensure that the government remains solvent. Yet, it is vital that when all of the pros and cons of each cut are considered, the rights of vulnerable nursing homes be considered fairly.
A story last week from the Quincy Herald-Whig discussed certain proposed cuts and the effect that it might have on the state’s seniors-particularly how it might increase the prevalence of Illinois nursing home neglect and abuse.
The article explained how various nursing home employees picketed last weekend informally as a protest against the Governor’s proposed cuts to Medicaid. Those cuts would impact long-term care throughout the state. As one protested explained, “This could have devastating effects. It could cause some nursing homes to close.”
The proposal which sparked the outrage would eliminate $2.7 billion from state Medicaid payments. Of that total, about $237 million would be cut from funds that otherwise would have gone to state nursing homes. In addition, the Governor is hoping to lessen some of the damage from cuts by increasing the tax of each pack of cigarettes by $1.
The financial problems are twofold. Not only are current proposed expenditures far higher than we can afford, but there is already a backlog of unpaid bills. The state’s Comptroller recently reported that, amazingly, the state already has about $5.5 billion of bills that remain unpaid. These represent things that have already been purchased. However, that figure may actually be an under-accounting. When other state office bills are taken into account, the state may actually have about $9 billion in unpaid bills. Unpaid Medicaid payments are a large part of those overdue invoices.
Each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm appreciates that these issues have very real effects on the lives of nursing home residents. For example, one nursing home aide reported that the state is already seven months behind in payments. The money shortage translates into day-to-day issues for these facilities, affecting things as simple as purchases of adult diapers and other necessary supplies. We understand that there are no easy options with these money issues. Yet, at the end of the day, the proposals have to be fair and honest. Vulnerable seniors need to have a voice in the process-even if not their own-to ensure that their issues are heard by policymakers.
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