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Measure advances to allow nursing homes a waiver on nurse-staffing minimums

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – A measure to permit nursing homes to seek a waiver from required nurse staffing minimums has passed the House and is headed to the Senate.

State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, was the House sponsor.

“Every year the state places additional mandates on many organizations, including nursing homes,” Beiser said. “At the same time, nursing homes continue lose funding, which forces them cut services to their residents. The combination of the two could result in many closing their doors.”

Beiser’s legislation would allow nursing homes to apply for waivers from the Department of Public Health exempting them from nurse-staffing ratios, which have substantially increased since 2010.

Facilities that apply must be able to demonstrate to the department that an attempt was made to hire nurses at competitive wages and that the current staffing levels will not endanger residents. To help ensure patient safety, the department would review the waiver quarterly.

Many facilities cannot find enough qualified nurses to meet mandated requirements, particularly in Southern Illinois, making them subject to penalties.

“Our seniors deserve to have the best care possible and to be near their loved ones,” Beiser added. “This measure will help ensure that nursing homes are safe for residents, while reducing unnecessary financial burdens placed on them by the state.”

House Bill 3398 passed the House of Representatives unanimously and moves to the Senate for further consideration. Sen. William McCann, R-Carlinville is sponsoring the measure in that chamber.

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