Senator CollinsCHICAGO – To improve conditions at nursing homes across Illinois, a new law to reform how the state assesses and reimburses nursing facilities, and link funding to staffing levels and quality of care, co-sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Collins, was signed into law last week.

“Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes were struggling,” said Collins (D-Chicago). “From understaffing to poor quality of care, our state’s older adults have endured a grave disadvantage of care.”

House Bill 246 includes the most recent efforts by the state to implement needed change at nursing facilities. The legislation overhauls the state’s nursing home assessment and reimbursement methods by transitioning to a Patient Driven Payment Model and increasing the base per diem rate by $7 to a total of $92.25. Under the current RUG-IV assessment model, nursing homes are incentivized to over-prescribe certain services, such as rehabilitative services, to increase their Medicaid reimbursement. The Patient Driven Payment Model more accurately accounts for clinically relevant factors, and brings Illinois in line with the federal Medicare model.

To address the willful understaffing of nursing facilities, the legislation requires that facilities meet at least 70% of the staffing levels outlined by the federal STRIVE study to be eligible for additional funding. Further, the new law provides $70 million in add-on payments that are tied to quality of care.

“Illinois is signaling to nursing home residents that our priority is improving care rather than lining the pockets of the long-term care facility owners,” Collins said. “For the people in all corners of our state, this law will hold irresponsible nursing home owners accountable. We have taken a critical step forward in our goal to make Illinois’ nursing homes the best in the nation.”

The package will also address the difficulty in retaining certified nursing assistants who have struggled during the course of the pandemic. Under the proposal, additional funding will be made available to facilities that incentivize the retention and promotion of CNAs to higher positions, such as scheduling captains.

House Bill 246 was signed by the governor last week and is effective immediately.

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