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Cost-Profit Equation Illustrates Risk of Nursing Home Neglect in Chicago

Chicago nursing home lawyers are concerned as state and federal policymakers continue to impact nursing home care in Illinois. And, unfortunately, ever-tightening budgets may negatively impact the care a home’s residents receive.

Lobbyists and organizations like the American Health Care Association — an organization of more than 11,000 non-profit and for-profit nursing home facilities — continue to warn of the consequences of ongoing cuts to Medicaid and other funding sources. Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys understand abuse or neglect of the elderly is most likely to occur when a facility puts profits ahead of the health and safety of its residents.”In these uncertain times, nursing homes need a reliable funding stream; one that ensures continued quality care can be delivered to Illinois seniors,” said AHCA CEO Mark Parkinson. “Efforts to trim or limit that Medicaid funding will have lasting, unintentional effects.”

The organization contends per-patient, per-day nursing home care costs have risen from $138.65 to $144.64 per day over the last two years, while reimbursement rates have climbed less than half that much — from $117.29 to $120.30. The nearly $25 a day shortfall between cost and reimbursement costs the industry some $417 million annually.

So says the industry. And therein lies the problem. These reports depend upon who is determining costs or whether a reasonable profit is factored into such “costs.”

The fact of the matter is that nursing homes are big business in this country. More than half of the nation’s 2 million nursing home beds are owned by large chain corporations and two-thirds of nursing homes are run as for-profit companies.

What too often happens is advocates for a rich and powerful industry have the ear of politicians and the health and safety of residents becomes a casualty. Take the ongoing fight over reforms in the wake of a series of stories in the Chicago Tribune detailing abuse to Illinois nursing home residents by residents and staff members with felony criminal records.

That fight has now moved to the capitol, where the State Journal-Register reports the industry is now arguing about the definition of “direct-care staffing” as it relates to landmark reforms passed in 2010. Essentially, the industry wants to use practical nurses and certified nurse assistants, rather than the more costly and professional care provided by registered nurses.

It’s about reducing costs, in other words. Not what’s best for the patient.

That’s why it’s incumbent upon each of us who visit these facilities to remain vigilant for possible signs of neglect or abuse. And, of course, thorough review upon placing a loved one is always warranted. We make the difficult decision to place an aging relative in professional care because we want to do what we can to ensure their wellbeing. Each resident deserves to live out his or her days in peace and dignity.

Neglect or abuse can take many forms. However, most often it is simple neglect that occurs because of a lack of proper training, staff turnover, or short-staffing issues. Remaining active in your older adult’s life can help make sure they are getting the kind of care and treatment for which they are paying.

If you have concerns about a local nursing home, contact Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 855-LAW-CHICAGO. There is no fee unless you win.

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