Illinois House Considering Bill to Require Nursing Home Insurance – HB6243

Everyone who owns a vehicle must ensure that the machine in insured. The reason is clear: there is a chance that another person could be harmed in an accident caused by someone driving that car negligently. Considering the risks, policymakers have determined that some level of insurance is required so that payments to those innocent parties for their harm can be made. Otherwise, far too many individuals might be seriously hurt with no recovery from the party who actually caused the harm. The costs for the injury would ultimately then fall on taxpayers as a whole.

This is essentially a form of forced financial prudence that is mandated by law. It is along those same lines that some Illinois lawmakers are now proposing a law which mandates some insurance coverage for Illinois nursing homes. The idea is straightforward: these facilities should have the financial means to pay for the consequences of their actions if they provide poor care. If they do not have insurance, then those harmed often have no recovery. Those costs often fall on taxpayers.

Not having insurance also acts as a disincentive to provide top notch care. In a perverse chain of consequences, the most reckless facilities (without insurance), seemingly having nothing to lose by provide mediocre care that harms residents. Without financial reserves they are often “judgement-proof,” meaning it is practically impossible to ensure accountability and redress via the civil justice system. In that way, the facilities may care far less about doing the little things each and every day that keep residents safe.

Preventing this is the goal of a proposed piece of legislation in the Illinois General Assembly — HB6243. The full summary of the bill and information on its current status can be found here.

Specifically, the measure amends the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and requires each facility to maintain at least a $500,000 liability insurance policy. When applying for a license the facility would be required to show proof that they have sufficient insurance coverage for each facility.

The law was first introduced in mid-November by State Representative Andre M. Thapedi. It was referred to the Rules committee the next day where it currently remains. It is unclear whether the measure has any potential to move in the next pair of days–which are the last of this General Assembly before a new team is sworn in. If it does not move, then it will likely need to be re-introduced and passed in the new General Assembly. Considering State Senate would also have to approve anything passed by the Illinois House, the chances of this passing now are slim.

However, it is important to continue to share information on this option, as it very well may be tried again in the next cycle. Requiring these facilities to pay for the consequences of their poor conduct is reasonable, and it is important that the burden not fall on taxpayers or the injured parties themselves.

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