CHICAGO (AP) — Beefing up staffing in Illinois nursing homes and raising fines on facilities that endanger residents are key features of reform legislation announced Tuesday by two Chicago lawmakers, union leaders and advocates for the elderly.
The nursing home industry quickly signaled displeasure with the bill, saying the proposal “goes way beyond” issues addressed by Gov. Pat Quinn’s nursing home safety task force. But one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, said her coalition is ready for a fight.
“We are here to say quite boldly and courageously that we’re willing to take on the nursing home industry,” Collins said at a news conference in Springfield.
The proposal, SB 685, targets violence in Illinois nursing homes stemming from the state’s reliance on the facilities to house younger adults with serious mental illness. Assaults, rapes and murders reported in a series of news articles sparked the formation of the governor’s task force.
The nursing home industry has been taking part in talks in Springfield with members of the task force working toward legislation, said Terry Sullivan of the Health Care Council of Illinois, the state’s largest nursing home trade group.
Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, is sponsoring the legislation with Collins. It’s backed by groups such as AARP, unions representing health care workers, the Supportive Housing Providers Association and Illinois Citizens for Better Care.
The proposal calls for a database of nursing home assaults that would be kept by the Illinois Department of Public Health and a new tax on nursing homes to increase funding for the state long-term care ombudsman program, which sends trained advocates into nursing homes to help residents.