Illinois Capitol
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Illinois nursing homes are in line for a $700 million funding increase if a Medicaid funding bill gets a key stamp of approval from lawmakers this week.

State senators Wednesday evening approved HB 246, which would increase reimbursements rates for long-term care facilities that increase their staffing levels. The legislation is meant to specifically target providers with a high concentration of Medicaid residents and low staffing levels in a push to help hire and retain more workers.

The Illinois Health Care Association hailed the vote as a “monumental achievement” that’s been in the works for almost two years. The measure now needs a vote of approval from the House before reaching Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) desk. He’s expected to sign the legislation if it is fully approved.

“These changes will infuse approximately $700M in gross funding to the sector. At a time when the costs of staffing and supplies are growing exponentially, new funding is critical,” Matt Hartman, IHCA president and CEO, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Thursday. 

Hartman explained the legislation’s language also helps providers address some critical issues identified in President Joe Biden’s nursing home reform plan by focusing on both staffing and resident outcomes within the Medicaid reimbursement framework.

He added that most of the new Medicaid revenue is being generated through a “reformation” and increase in their provider assessment, “which isn’t anything groundbreaking.” 

However, he added that “focusing the [Medicaid] payment methodology on staffing and quality in the way which we will be doing is fairly unique” to the state of Illinois. 

“We are also fully transitioning our reimbursement system away from RUGs to a [Patient Driven Payment Model]-based system as part of the change, which many states will have to do,” Hartman said. 

LeadingAge Illinois and AARP Illinois also supported the legislation.