Nursing home reform for Medicaid patients passes House, goes to Governor

Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 9:52 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Nursing home reform reached its culmination after passing the house with unanimous support.

The result of years of negotiation involves over $700 million to be budgeted to the cost of transitioning to a new system and add-ons requested by nursing home advocates. Of that number, $500 million was proposed by Governor JB Pritzker in February. The rest will be gathered from a established tax on nursing homes, which will be matched by federal funds.

“I’m proud to be able to present this bill,” House sponsor Rep. Anna Moeller (D - Elgin) said. “This is the culmination of several years of hard work, negotiation and listening to residents and families in nursing homes to understand how conditions are affecting quality of life for the most vulnerable in our communities.”

The state’s top Medicaid payer, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, has been negotiating with nursing home advocacy groups for months to establish the bill language. Around 45,000 Illinois residents rely on Medicaid and live in nursing homes.

“This achievement gives us 45,000 reasons to celebrate, and we look forward to implementing a new system with more accountability for nursing home owners in July,” HFS Director Teresa Eagleson said. “This legislation ties the majority of the new money for the nursing home industry to staffing levels and will drive improved care and safety, and an overall better quality of life for many people.”

The reforms look to change how nursing homes are paid for serving Medicaid customers. In part, homes will be paid based on how well they are staffing, to avoid issues found in homes that have a high amount of Medicaid patients but a low number of nursing staff on hand.

To create an incentive, the Department of Healthcare and Family services will pay all nursing homes as if they were well-staffed for the first six months. This is in addition to a 15-month transition period where the old and new payment model will be combined to help homes adjust.

The compromised bill also includes extra daily pay for facilities who have more than 70% of their patients on Medicaid.

The bill will head to the governor’s desk for signing. He released a statement upon the passage of the bill congratulating the lawmakers on the long task of getting the bill passed.

“This legislation is the product of more than a year of hard work led by my Department of Healthcare and Family Services along with our partners in the General Assembly, stakeholders, and industry leaders,” he said. “I applaud their work to protect our seniors and the leadership of Senator Gillespie and Representative Moeller to move this bill forward in the General Assembly.”

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