Opinions differ on changes to Illinois' nursing home system

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Nursing home operators and seniors' rights groups in Illinois are clashing over proposed changes to that state's long-term care system, according to news reports.

Recently, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn convened a Nursing Home Safety Task Force, which has made a series of recommendations designed to overhaul long-term care in Illinois. (McKnight's, 2/22/10) Some seniors' groups have indicated the reforms do not do enough to protect seniors, and have continued to push for additional reforms. For example, they argue that a recommendation to license separate wings or facilities for potentially violent patients would not improve on the previous system of segregating mentally ill nursing home patients, the Chicago Tribune reported.

At the same time, but for different reasons, nursing home groups have also rejected certain task force recommendations. Provider groups have raised objections to raising minimum staffing levels across the board, increasing fines and penalties for unsafe and poorly run facilities, and raising fees to help pay for new safety enforcement, according to the Tribune.

The Nursing Home Safety Task Force was convened after a series of Chicago Tribune articles highlighted resident abuse toward mentally ill patients in Illinois' nursing homes. Provider groups, seniors' advocates and state officials have been meeting twice per week to discuss the recommended changes to the state's long-term care system, according to the Tribune.