Nursing home workers are cheering passage of a bill that will penalize providers who under-staff their facilities, and in what might be a surprise to some, operators are also taking a supporting position on it.

State legislators in Illinois passed legislation last weekend that fines nursing homes that don’t meet the state’s required 2.5 hour daily direct-care level.

The potential for fines comes as the state tackles staffing on the funding side, too. The state’s FY2020 budget includes a $240 million hike for providers, $70 million of it set aside to help facilities meet staffing requirements, according to Capitol News Illinois.

Another $170 million in additional Medicaid reimbursements will address costs such as food, utilities, maintenance and equipment.

AARP was among those pushing for staffing fines after a newspaper investigation tied sepsis rates to chronic staffing problems in the state. SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union representing many of the state’s frontline nursing home workers, also was on board.

President Greg Kelley told the Chicago Tribune the bill’s passage was “historic” and said workers should not be “constantly overburdened, exhausted, and stressed trying to care for sometimes up to 30 or 40 residents, if not more, at a single time.”

The Illinois Health Care Association said it was generally in favor of the bill — in its final form.

“It will allow the state to regulate in a way that it should have been doing since the previous reform bill,” IHCA Executive Director Matt Harman told McKnight’s on Thursday.

“With the removal of some of the most punitive components, IHCA’s position switched to one of passive support,” Harman added. “But we remain cautious because of the subjective nature of how DPH [the Department of Public Health] has historically regulated centers.”

Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) made the bill law Wednesday when he signed the state’s new budget, in which the nursing home provision was included.