Home Local Nursing home bill aimed at increasing staffing, improving care signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Nursing home bill aimed at increasing staffing, improving care signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker

by staff

When Betty Jacobs moved into the Victory Centre of Roseland in 2019, she couldn’t even walk short distances because of a debilitating illness.

On Tuesday, Jacobs independently walked from her seat to the podium to discuss the importance of a bill signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Tuesday that she hopes will improve the quality of life for more people like her at long-term care facilities.


“As a mother who raised three sons, a retired art teacher who taught at Morgan Park High School for 28 years and a church choir member, losing my independence and having to rely on others was not easy,” Jacobs said. “But everyone at Victory Centre was so kind, compassionate and professional. They made sure I maintained my dignity and my will to get stronger.”

The legislation signed by Pritzker, which Illinois lawmakers passed without opposition in April, will tie funding increases for nursing homes to staffing levels and quality of care.


To qualify for bonus reimbursements, nursing homes will have to meet at least 70% of federal staffing level guidelines, and payments will also be based on the home’s quality star rating from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The law is intended to keep nursing home operators from “playing both sides” by billing Medicaid extra for high-need residents without funding adequate staffing to provide the necessary level of care for those residents, Pritzker said. And for the first time, long-term care facilities will have to publicly identify their owners, who are often hidden by complex corporate structures.

“Everyone deserves quality affordable health care,” Pritzker said. “With today’s (bill) signing, Illinois will no longer tolerate an emphasis on profits over people, especially at the expense of our most vulnerable seniors.”

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Chronic understaffing and underinvestment in nursing homes predated the pandemic, but the deadly coronavirus exposed the “most egregious cracks and faults” in the system, Pritzker said.

Under the new law, the state will increase its $2.5 billion in annual nursing home funding by roughly $700 million, with $100 million coming from the state’s general revenue fund and the rest from federal Medicaid and local nursing home assessments that by law are not supposed to be passed on to residents. The funding pays for the care of about 70% of the state’s 45,000 residents in skilled nursing facilities.

The law includes adopting the federal Patient Driven Payment Model to more closely reflect the clinical needs of each patient, Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Theresa Eagleson said at the bill’s signing. The changes reward facilities that opt into a wage scale increase for certified nursing assistants, who make up a considerable portion of nursing home staff, by repaying them through the Medicaid program.

“These workers do a vital job of providing around-the-clock care to our seniors,” Eagleson said. “The pay scale will increase wages based on the years of support and experience, and Medicaid funds every bit of it.”



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