Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Could Medicaid Funding Cuts Lead to More Cases of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse?

Recent Medicaid cuts affecting nursing home recipients have restricted access to dental, vision, and podiatry care. For instance, routine dental services are generally no longer covered by Medicaid. Instead, Medicaid recipients usually only receive emergency dental services. Without Medicaid funding, nursing homes must attempt to provide these vital services to their residents privately, rely on financial help from residents' family members, or neglect their residents' medical needs. This raises a troubling issue: If resources at nursing homes are even further depleted, could this lead to even more cases of nursing home abuse and neglect?
A group in Chicago hopes that question doesn't have to be answered. An estimated 300 nursing home supporters gathered at the Thompson Center to protest existing and potential future cuts in Medicaid funding affecting a number of elderly nursing home residents. Pam Comstock, the executive director of the Health Care Council of Illinois who explained, "Our seniors are elderly and sick and they can't get in their cars and go to Springfield or come down to [the] Thompson Center to talk to anybody, so that's why we're joining our voices to give them a voice." Staff members of several Chicago area nursing homes attended the protest. 
In addition, protesters asserted that the state has failed to properly reimburse Illinois nursing homes for Medicaid services already provided to nursing home residents. Demonstrators estimated that the state owes Illinois nursing homes approximately $400 million for previously provided Medicaid services, while the state estimates that this amount is closer to $210 million. Regardless of the specific amount owed, it is clear that Illinois nursing home are not receiving the funding they are owed for services their residents are entitled to under Medicaid coverage.
This combination of recent Medicaid funding cuts, potential future Medicaid funding cuts, and significant outstanding reimbursements renders it unlikely that Medicaid recipients living in nursing homes are receiving proper and adequate care. In addition, the inevitable financial strain on nursing homes created by these circumstances likely affects the quality of care provided to all nursing home residents, as nursing homes attempt to budget around Medicaid's shortcomings. In the most extreme of circumstances, underfunded nursing home care may result in staffing deficits which lead to the neglect, or even abuse, of nursing home residents.
If you have a question about this post, or any other issue related to Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Mike Keating. You can contact Mike by calling 312-208-7702 or emailing MKeating@KeatingLegal.com, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All phone calls and emails are returned promptly. All initial consultations are free and confidential.