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Nursing Care Funding Becomes Bigger Concern in Upcoming Budget Cuts

Nursing home staff and supporters continue to protest Medicaid budget cuts proposed by Governor Pat Quinn this spring. Advocates for elderly patient care are concerned that further cuts will make the care in Illinois abysmal. Our experienced elder care attorneys are extremely concerned about the dangerous nursing home conditions that might result from reduced funding. According the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Illinois nursing homes already receive the least amount of funding of any nursing home system nationwide. Based on this statistic, further budget cuts are simply unacceptable.

In addition to receiving the lowest amount of funding, Illinois is also about eight months behind in paying nursing homes, which equates to about $600 million dollars that homes are waiting on. Missing funds could be devastating to the level of patient care available. In fact, one of the suggestions the nursing home industry recently brought to the table in response to Medicaid reform was simply to reduce the quality of care. In Illinois, 70 cents of every dollar goes toward nursing home employee wages, so it is hard to imagine how the homes would stay open for business. Furthermore, over 90% of the nursing home residents in Illinois rely on Medicaid, which means that delinquent payments could leave nursing home operators struggling to stay afloat.

Illinois nursing homes are the 10th largest employer in the state. According to AARP, nursing homes employ over 100,000 people, but the upcoming budget cuts could lead to a reduction of thousands of jobs in the industry. Nursing home employees recently gathered at the Thompson Center to protest budget reductions. On May 14, 2012, about 80 employees from the Niles Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Park Ridge joined in the efforts holding banners outside the Thompson Center.

The Park Ridge Herald-Advocate reported on the protest and spoke with the director of the Niles Center about the future of the home. Director Michael Perl expressed serious concerns about the already minimalist care the home is able to provide. On a reduced budget, the home would likely have to cut workers and even services provided to residents.

A nurse from Niles stressed the difficulty of providing care when staff is overburdened with too many patients. She worried that fewer staff members will lead to less compassionate care and more accidents. Illinois already ranks somewhere between 43rd and 49th of all the states in categories such as the prevalence of pressure sores and nursing home resident hospitalizations. Our experienced Illinois nursing home attorneys know all too well that Illinois cannot afford to reduce the quality of care any further. If you or a loved one suffers debilitating injuries while in a nursing home you should contact an experienced nursing home lawyer to initiate the process for financial recovery.

Despite the negative concerns about the level of care, the Governor is celebrating seniors rather than scrutinizing the care they receive this month. Together Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois Department of Aging declared May the month of ‘Older Americans’. This year’s initiative, titled “Never too Old to Play” encourages seniors to stay healthy and active be engaging in community functions. We support efforts to keep our nation’s seniors vibrant and healthy to help prevent injuries inside of nursing homes and beyond.