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Illinois Part of the Community-Based Care Trend

In the nursing home health care industry, there has been a growing trend, or shift, from institutional care to community-based care. This entails keeping patients out of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and in their homes where they receive care perhaps from live-in aides, or aides that visit on a certain schedule. Care supplied by family members can also be a part of this community-based paradigm. Researchers have found that patients become more and more dependent on caregivers when they are in an institution (a nursing home or long-term care facility) as opposed to when they are cared for and receive treatment in a more community-based system, which may tend to provide a more personal touch. This also tends to lead to lower costs and more effective care, which is much more efficient and a win-win situation.

Programs to Reform Long-Term Care

As many know, federal dollars go toward healthcare for the indigent or elderly through programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are administered by the federal government through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and administered and overseen jointly with the states. The federal government runs a program called the Balancing Incentive Program, which aims to work with states to reform and improve long-term care by providing resources, helping consumers with health care planning, improving oversight, and lowering costs while raising efficiencies. There are certain eligibility requirements for states depending on how much of Medicaid funding they spend on non-institutional programs and services, and how they meet certain other program requirements.

In the spirit of this program, the state of Illinois is considering a pilot program that will make use of the resources and guidance from the federal Balancing Incentive Program in order to encourage community-based care for people with disabilities, elderly or otherwise, so that they are not forced to live in long-term nursing home facilities as their only choice. Several state or local organizations have banded together to propose to the state how it can work with the federal government on this initiative. These organizations include the Visiting Nurses Association, Northern Illinois Area Agency on Aging, RAMP, the Rockford Memorial Hospital, the Rockford Housing Authority, a group called Rosecrance, and a group called RAMP of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. All of these groups and organizations can provide planning for consumers as well as counseling and other services such as with equipment or mental health services, for home-based care.

As reported, Illinois already has the second oldest collection of community-based long-term care programs in all the U.S. With the advance of medicine, technology, and the overall trend toward community-based care, there is a need to truly examine what can make this type of care most effective in contemporary times, and how we can best help patients live as independently as possible based on the types of disabilities they face. The goal is to increase the level of home and community-based care, and Illinois is prepared to increase spending on these non-institutional services (i.e. not nursing homes or long-term care facilities) in the coming years. This pilot program would appear to be an excellent way to figure out how best to make this happen.

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