In mid-January of this year, the Illinois Nursing Home Safety Task Force
released draft recommendations for reforming care and improving patient safety
in Illinois nursing homes. The recommendations are in response to concerns
raised by investigators about the state’s increasing use of nursing homes to
house residents and younger psychiatric patients, many of whom have criminal
records (see our
client alert discussing the task force’s draft recommendations). On Feb. 19,
2010, the task force presented its 52-page
to Gov. Pat Quinn.
Formed in October 2009 by Gov. Quinn, the task force was directed to
investigate allegations of abuse in Illinois nursing homes, raised by a series
of Chicago Tribune articles. The task force was charged with examining
existing resident safety and admission policies and procedures, with a specific
focus on policies concerning non-geriatric residents and convicted felons in
nursing homes. The task force was directed to recommend reforms of the current
system and consider alternatives to institutional placement.
Key Reform Areas
- Enhancing nursing home pre-admission screening and background checking
- Setting new and enforcing higher standards of care.
- Significantly expanding home and community-based residential housing and
service options appropriate for mentally ill and developmentally delayed
The final report also calls for an increase in nursing home licensing fees to
offset costs associated with new efforts to survey nursing homes and enforce
mandated safety requirements. It also calls for strengthening the Illinois
Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) power to revoke licenses of nursing homes
that violate state regulations; increasing penalties for violations of certain
regulations; and adding 79 new nursing home surveyors to address issues related
to mentally ill and developmentally disabled residents.
Several of the task force’s recommendations may be implemented by state
agency rulemaking, while other unfunded proposals will require legislative
approval and additional state funding. According to Michael Gelder, task force
chair and Gov. Quinn’s senior health care policy advisor, “Even in this economic
downturn, current spending for institutional long-term care, if redirected, can
fund many of these recommendations.”
If the final report’s recommendations are adopted, Illinois nursing homes
should expect to face additional regulations and specialized surveys from IDPH.
It is important for nursing home operators to understand how the final report’s
recommendations may impact daily operations. In a recent news report, Gelder
told the Chicago Tribune that many of the proposals would be implemented
immediately, and a March 31, 2010, deadline has been set for implementing many
other reforms included in the final report.
Please contact the authors in our long-term care
practice group for more information about what steps to take to comply with the
final report’s recommendations.