Medicaid Reform in Illinois Aims to Help Nursing Home Staffing
Although the Illinois Medicaid reimbursement rate has been improved in the past few years, it hasn’t kept up with the increasing costs facing nursing homes, including the necessary boost in wages. The next wave of Provider Relief Funds will certainly help the long-term care industry in the state, but many facilities see it as only a temporary fix.
For a more long-term fix, state-by-state Medicaid reimbursement reform may be needed. More money would allow skilled nursing facilities to fund real solutions, like increasing wages and providing initiatives for staff.
Together with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, LeadingAge Illinois is seeking to reform the nursing facility rate used by the state Medicaid program in an effort to fix some of the problems facing the long-term care industry. This proposal, which was brought to the Illinois General Assembly at the end of last month, recommends the majority of funding be used to increase staffing and improve the workforce, while the rest is used to reward facilities that are achieving higher levels of care and upgrading their quality metrics.
Since 2014, Illinois has increased the reimbursement rate a few times, but nursing homes with the most Medicaid beds merely treaded water in terms of staffing following these increases. Plus, the pandemic has made it even more difficult to recruit and retain staff.
Until the reimbursement rate issue is addressed, skilled nursing facilities in Illinois and in other states will continue to experience staffing shortages. Federal reform would also help to improve nursing home staffing, especially as more and more seniors require long-term care.
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