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Illinois Nursing Home Standards Likely to Suffer From Budget Cuts

Nursing home abuse or neglect takes many forms and can have many causes. But one of the main underlying causes is unquestionably the failure by many care facilities to put enough financial resources into resident care.

In the Chicago area and throughout Illinois, the funding crisis for Medicaid is only compounding the cost factors that contribute to nursing home injuries.

The state is facing a budget shortfall of $2.7 billion for Medicaid, the state / federal program that helps pays for healthcare for about 2.7 million people in Illinois. As part of a plan to close this gap, Illinois legislators have approved a plan to cut services by $1.3 billion.

In addition, payments to hospitals, nursing homes and other Medicaid providers would be cut by $240 million more. Seniors would also lose the Illinois Cares RX, a prescription drug program that serves nearly 200,000 seniors.

Even for nursing home residents who still get medications, supplies will be more limited. Residents will get only a week's worth of medication at a time, not a month's worth.

Illinois has low national rankings compared to other states on key measures of nursing home quality, such as the percentage of residents with decubitus ulcers or pressure sores.

So the cuts approved this week are likely to make a bad situation worse. Shortfalls in funding may make nursing home operators take more shortcuts that negatively affect patient safety.

Lack of funding for nursing home industry is not, however, an excuse for negligence in patient care. If carelessness caused an injury, the common law still applies.

Source: "Illinois lawmakers slash Medicaid," Crain's Chicago Business, 5-25-12

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