Penalties for Illinois providers that understaff their facilities will begin this year. 

Illinois state legislators in 2019 passed a law that allows the state’s Department of Public Health to fine nursing homes that don’t meet the required 2.5 hours of direct daily nursing care for residents. Monetary penalties were set to begin Jan. 1, 2021 but the state delayed those plans until mid-year due to the pandemic. 

Illinois Department of Public Health officials in December said the delayed enforcement is an effort to allow nursing homes to “staff up” as the industry fights through the public health crisis.

“The rule requires facilities to report to IDPH quarterly. IDPH will evaluate compliance after the first quarter of 2021. IDPH will be hiring additional administrative review staff in the new year to evaluate compliance,” the agency told local media Monday.

The Illinois Health Care Association has generally supported the legislative effort, saying the law will “allow the state to regulate in a way that it should have been doing since the previous reform bill.”

AARP Illinois Director Bob Gallo criticized the delayed enforcement. He noted the “longer that they wait to do this, the more deaths we’re going to see, not only from COVID-19, but from the care individuals need in a nursing home when we’re not dealing with a pandemic.”