Proposed bill could eliminate nursing home fines in Illinois

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The Illinois state Legislature convened Wednesday to consider a controversial, first-of-its-kind proposal that would allow for the reduction, or in some cases, elimination of fines against nursing homes.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Dan Kotowski (D), claims the measure would help to fix troubled nursing homes by changing how fines are levied. Instead of paying money to the state in the event of a care-related violation, fines would be reduced or eliminated, provided the money instead goes toward fixing the problem that led to the fine. The state's nursing home industry strongly supports the measure, but opponents are just as vehement, according to a report in the Illinois-based State-Journal Register.

Wendy Meltzer with the group Illinois Citizens for Better Care says it would be "morally repugnant" to forgive fines against nursing homes where neglect leads to the rape or death of a patient, the newspaper said. Meltzer also argues that funds from the fines would be directed away from Illinois' public health department efforts to monitor failing nursing homes. Proponents counter that the money would instead be received by the state's long-term care ombudsman program, which advocates for nursing home residents, the newspaper reported.
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