Elmwood Park seniors fight Medicaid cuts
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:07AM
The Health Care Council of Illinois, a leading voice for the nursing home community, brought its multi-city tour to Elmwood Park on April 30 to fight against disastrous cuts in Medicaid funding being considered in Springfield.
The event and news conference at the Elmwood Care nursing home took aim at a proposed $2.7 billion cut in Medicaid dollars, which would have a devastating impact on nursing homes across the state.
“It’s time we step up to the plate for nursing home residents,” Pat Comstock, executive director of HCCI, said as she invoked a baseball theme for the event. “These seniors make up an all-star team of our state’s most valuable and most vulnerable residents. Illinois continually balances the budget on the backs of nursing home residents on Medicaid. We must not allow that to happen again this year. We must not allow thousands of vulnerable seniors to essentially be evicted from their homes.”
Attending the event was a crowd of nursing home residents and their family members, as well as staff from Elmwood Care and other area nursing facilities. “These cuts would be absolutely horrendous,” Mark Solomon, Elmwood Care Administrator, said. “It’s critical that our state protect the frailest members of our community.”
Comstock said while some have suggested the state would save money by sending residents home and providing them with housekeeping services, such an option is unrealistic. “Residents in nursing homes are not the same as people using in-home services. Nursing home residents need specialized, skilled care not available with in-home services. You can’t trade one senior for another and you can’t evict seniors from their nursing homes.”
Medicaid funding is critical for providing many services, such care as specialized rehabilitation beds and restrictive diets for residents, Comstock explained. “Proper funding also ensures our homes can enact the safety measures mandated by the state’s nursing home reform law.”
While Medicaid funding for nursing homes last year was not cut, the state again delayed payments, extending to seven months the time it takes for nursing homes to be reimbursed by the state. In total, the state is $600 million in arrears to nursing homes. Furthermore, Illinois ranks 50th in the nation when it comes to receiving state Medicaid reimbursement.
“We’re dead last in Medicaid reimbursements. That’s strike one,” Comstock said. “We’re seven months and $600 million delinquent in paying our nursing homes. That’s strike two. Illinois cannot afford to strike out. State leaders and elected officials need to step up to the plate and go to bat for Illinois’ vital nursing homes. Save our seniors. Save our nursing homes.”
HCCI is touring the state to generate awareness for the campaign to Step up for Nursing Home Residents. The multi-city tour is taking place from late April through early May and will unite nursing home staff, residents and family members at 17 facilities around a common theme of ensuring quality care for the state’s nursing home residents.
The Health Care Council of Illinois is a professional association of more than 500 nursing facilities committed to quality residential health care in Illinois through a productive and responsible partnership between the private and public sectors. HCCI represents more than 100,000 nursing home professionals serving more than 78,000 residents; www.CareYouCanCountOn.org.