Proposal looks to shorten nursing home investigation process
SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - A proposal moving to the House floor aims to add education requirements to investigator training and to move faster through the investigation process when nursing homes are accused of misconduct.
Introduced by Rep. Maurice West II (D - Rockford), the bill would tighten up the amount of days allotted for investigations to happen. current legislation allows an investigation period of 30 days, the proposal would give investigators one week to complete their review.
Additionally, the bills halves the amount of time the department of human and Family services has to notify the facility of their investigation’s findings. From that point, the nursing facility has a set amount of time to devise a plan for correcting the “deficiencies” found in the investigation.
From there, HFS has to revisit the facility to see if the correction has taken place. Under the new bill, if they don’t visit within seven days, the department must assume facilities are under compliance.
However, those against the bill worry this would tie the hands of those investigating complaints against nursing homes. The cite several “problematic” items in the bill, like giving facilities prior notice before conducting an investigation, and the assumption of compliance if the agency isn’t able to revisit the facility.
The Illinois Public Health Department, who investigates the claims, said that the current statutes are federally mandated and changing them would affect funding and federal compliance.
“With this language, we would not be able to open a new complaint until a another complaint is closed for that facility,” IDPH Division Chief of Governmental Affairs Allison Nickrent said. “That would really be problematic for residents. You know, if we get a complaint that a resident is in danger but there’s still another complaint under investigation, according to this language we would not be able to investigate.”
Advocates of the bill, including Healthcare Council of Illinois which represents a number of nursing facilities across the state, said the current investigation process is lengthy and leaves multiple cases open at once.
“There’s currently no time requirement on when the department must come back out to verify that the corrective actions were taken and close the complaint,” HCCI Representative Matt Harris said. he went on to say some extreme examples of this instance created issues in receiving payment.
The proposal passed unanimously out of the House Human Services Committee with the promise of an amendment from sponsor West. It will head to the floor in the coming weeks.
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