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Nursing home reform, two years in the making, passes IL Senate

The unanimous voting record for the Senate bill for nursing home reform.
The unanimous voting record for the Senate bill for nursing home reform.(WGEM)
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 9:37 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Nursing home reform, that stalled last year in negotiations, has now passed the Senate unanimously.

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services, the state’s top Medicaid payer, has been working with nursing home advocacy groups for years in order to spearhead a shift in systems used to determine how facilities are paid for treating Medicaid patients.

“I do think this is going to do a lot to improve the quality of care for residents in our nursing homes,” Bill sponsor Sen. Ann Gillespie (D-Mount Prospect) said.

The bill is intended to target homes with a high concentration of Medicaid patients and a low amount of staff there to help them. Initially, advocacy group Healthcare Council of Illinois identified 50 homes they believed would be at risk of serious loss of profits or closure upon passage of the reform.

To combat those risks, the bill would pay all homes as if they were well-staffed for six months to provide an incentive for hiring more and to ease the transition. There will also be a 15-month transition period where the two payment models will be combined.

Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) said she was made aware of about nine homes still at risk of being a “loser” under new legislation. Gillespie said she is not aware of those homes but will check with her staff.

Monday, the Capitol Bureau obtained a letter memorializing significant progress in reaching a compromise. In the days since, legislative language has been introduced and now awaits passage in one more chamber before heading to the governor for signing.

Governor JB Pritzker is expected to sign the bill, considering remarks made the morning before the bill passed the Senate.

“With those stakeholders, it kind of fell apart in the mid-fall, and then there was a lot of wrangling that started back up in January,” Pritzker said. “I’m committed to making sure that we’re protecting our seniors, protecting particularly those who are nursing home residents.”

The bill also includes “extras” for the nursing homes, as described by HFS Director Theresa Eagleson, such as an extra bump in the daily rate for nursing homes with 70 percent, or more, of their residents being Medicaid patients.

There are $210 million in extras, beyond the $500 million proposed by the Governor in his budget in February. Half of the $210 million will be matched federally, meaning it depends on if the $105 million will be appropriated in the budget.

Rep. Greg Harris said a bit over $100 million has been appropriated to nursing home reform from the state budget.

The budget is expected to pass by the end of the week.

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