Medicaid Reform in Illinois Aims to Help Nursing Home Staffing

elderly woman in wheel chair with nursing home worker behind her

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The Illinois Medicaid reimbursement rate has increased a few times in recent years, but it hasn’t kept pace with the rising costs that nursing homes face, such as a needed boost in wages. Although the next wave of Provider Relief Funds will undoubtedly help the long-term care industry, many facilities in the state see it as only a short-term fix.

For a more long-term fix, state-by-state Medicaid reimbursement reform would be necessary. An increased rate would allow skilled nursing facilities to fund meaningful solutions, like raising wages and providing helpful initiatives for staff.

Together with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, LeadingAge Illinois is looking to fix some of these problems by pursuing a restructured nursing facility rate used by the state Medicaid program. At the end of last month, they brought a proposal to the Illinois General Assembly, which recommends the majority of funding be used to increase staffing and expand the workforce, while the rest is used to incentivize facilities to achieve higher levels of care and enhance their quality metrics.

Since 2014, the Illinois reimbursement rate has been increased a few times. However, following these increases, nursing homes with the most Medicaid beds merely treaded water in terms of staffing. Not to mention, the pandemic has made it even more difficult for facilities to hire and keep staff.

Skilled nursing facilities in Illinois and in other states will continue to experience these staffing shortages until the reimbursement rate issue is addressed. Federal reform would also help to improve the industry workforce crisis, especially as more and more seniors require long-term care.

Read the full article from Skilled Nursing News.