Nursing home operators in one of the toughest states for Medicaid reimbursements will receive a $240 million reprieve in the next fiscal year.
Illinois lawmakers approved the funding boost as part of the state’s most recent budget, which Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Wednesday; Capitol News Illinois initially reported the nursing home windfall Thursday.
The federal and state governments will fund that total haul equally, according to Capitol News Illinois, with $70 million allocated to assisting SNFs with meeting new minimum nursing staffing requirements. The remaining $170 million will go toward updating Medicaid reimbursements for a variety of support services from food to maintenance — some of which haven’t been revised since 1999.
The news marks welcome relief for operators in the Land of Lincoln, which ranked 49th for Medicaid nursing home reimbursements in a 2018 analysis by the Health Care Council of Illinois.
Those pressures have led to the closure of 20 facilities in Illinois since March 2014, according to an April report from the HCCI and the consulting firm Plante Moran. SNFs with more than 51% of residents on Medicaid lost $765,500 apiece in 2016, Plante Moran found; nationwide, about 62% of all nursing home residents have their stays covered under Medicaid.
“This shows that even contribution margins from private, Medicare, and other payers cannot fully subsidize Medicaid losses,” the report noted.
The HCCI painted the issue of funding increases as a make-or-break issue for the state’s nursing homes at the time the report was released.
“These facilities are closing, and I can tell you more are going to close,” Pat Comstock, HCCI’s executive director, told Capitol News Illinois at the time. “It’s happening because we have a situation in Illinois where they can no longer financially survive.”
Comstock was upbeat in a Thursday statement to the publication.
“This money means survival,” he said. “Our members are thrilled, but they’re also relieved because these dollars are going to provide some much needed relief from the struggles to survive that members are experiencing.”
The funding gains also come with new fines for operators that do not meet certain staffing requirements, as well as a crackdown on the use of psychotropic medications, according to the publication.