CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–January 24, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced $110 million in additional federal funding for enhanced safety, increased staffing and quality standards in nursing homes. Federal authorities approved a federal Medicaid funding match that will allow the state to fully implement the reforms designed to protect frail older adults and persons with disabilities living in long term care facilities. Today’s announcement is the next in a series of steps to improve quality of care at Illinois nursing homes stemming from the work of the Governor’s Nursing Home Safety Task Force.
Under the funding mechanism approved by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, nursing homes will pay a provider tax that will be pooled, generating the $110 million in federal Medicaid matching funds. The bulk of these funds will be redistributed to nursing homes to enable the homes to pay for the increased staffing and quality standards that are required under the state’s nursing home reform laws.
“This is positive news for people who live in a nursing home or have a loved one living in a nursing home,” Governor Quinn said. “It means that our nursing homes get the funds that they need to continue improving safety and the quality of services that I signed into law as part of our nursing home reforms.”
The funding mechanism is being administered by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. It will also generate $20 million that will go toward increasing staff at the Illinois Department of Public Health, which will inspect and regulate nursing homes. A portion of the funds will also go toward expanded home and community-based services that serve as an alternative to nursing home care.
“Under the Governor’s leadership, we partnered with state agencies and other interested organizations to bring this policy to fruition,” Pat Comstock, executive director of the Health Care Council of Illinois, said. “Adequate funding for nursing home care will continue to be an important issue, and we must continually look for fair, creative solutions to ensure all nursing home residents in Illinois have proper care and a good quality of life.”
Governor Quinn formed the Nursing Home Safety Task Force in October 2009 to respond to concerns about the safety and regulation of nursing homes. The Task Force held a series of public meetings and recommended legislation to address these concerns. This led to the passage of Senate Bill 326, sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago). The legislation signed into law by Governor Quinn authorized the increased staffing and safety provisions, as well as revisions to the screening process for nursing homes to protect older adults from residents with a record of criminal violence.
A second law generated by the Task Force, Senate Bill 2863, sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) and then Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago), was designed to crack down on fraud, abuse and neglect in nursing homes.
For more information about the Governor’s Nursing Home Safety Task Force, please visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/nursinghomesafety/Pages/default.aspx.