Spring is usually a time for renewal and rebirth, but not so in the state legislature. In a heated session, Illinois lawmakers passed a $1.6 billion cut on the states Medicaid. Instead of renewing their commitment from 2010 to reform nursing homes in Chicago and throughout the state and increase the care dispensed to residents, they passed legislation that will reduce staff and possibly even close some of the existing facilities in Chicago and throughout Illinois.
Cuts to nursing homes
Medicaid will be cutting funding across the board for nursing homes, with a graduated system based on the type of care the facilities provide. The highest cuts, 10%, will be for homes that provide care to higher functioning patients, 2.7% will be for homes providing mental disease treatment and 1% for the homes providing “high-need” care. How these cuts will actually play out in homes that provide a wide variety of care is yet to be determined.
The idea behind these cuts is to reduce the number of patients that are, according to Medicare and the state legislature, unnecessarily placed in nursing homes. Higher functioning patients and homes that have a majority of these patients are the ones who will see the most cuts. Illinois is using Medicaid’s resource utilization group (RUGs) method to determine which facilities fit into these categories.
The concern is how this will affect the patients as they are categorized and sorted into groups by the RUGs. The system does not take into account individuals who may seem higher functioning but are still unable to live on their own and need the stability of a home. The method is very complex and there are bound to be many elderly that are in need that end up suffering due to these cuts.
Even cuts at the 1% level will be sure to affect the facilities and patients. With advocates fighting tooth and nail to increase staff and patient care within nursing homes, any cuts will hamper these efforts. If nursing home owners are asked to give up profit or care, which do you think they will choose?
With these cuts on the horizon, Chicago and the rest of Illinois’ nursing homes are in for some changes over the next year. Unfortunately, for the patients, this is doubtful to be anything positive. In a system already struggling with abuse and neglect, these cuts could not have come at a worse time.