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The impact of backlogged nursing home payments on patient care

Nursing homes in Illinois that depend on Medicare and Medicaid payments -- like those in many other areas of the country -- are facing a chronic financial crisis due to backlogged payments from the government.

What, however, does that mean for patients?

If you have a loved one in a nursing home in Illinois, the news that government funding for their services has been held up is not good. In worst-case scenarios, it can even put the lives of nursing home residents in danger.

Without the right funding, nursing homes can't offer the services patients need to have, and that means a higher chance of patient injuries and deaths.

What happens when nursing homes don't get paid?

When a nursing home doesn't get enough funds, there are a few problems that happen. These include:

  • Reduced staff numbers in general
  • Poor quality of care for daily patient need
  • Poor response times during emergencies
  • Poor infection control for the most vulnerable patients

Without government funds, a nursing home might not have the money for heat or air conditioning. It might reuse medical supplies that would otherwise be thrown out, increasing the risk of infections in its patients. While the nursing home may suffer financially, nursing home patients suffer physically.

With reduced staff numbers, the quality of care also decreases, as do the response times of those who are there to help. The more Medicare and Medicaid payments are delayed, the worse the situation is likely to become.

What should you do before choosing a nursing home?

One thing that people usually fail to find out before they choose a nursing home for their loved one is how well the nursing home operates financially. Are bills processed in a timely manner? Does the financial department have a steady operation or are there a lot of turnovers (which can increase paperwork errors that lead to even longer delays in payments)? Is the nursing home entirely reliant on Medicare and Medicaid funds or are there private-pay patients as well?

Take a good look around before you choose your loved one's nursing home. Ask questions to find out if the home seems financially solvent. The relationship between the nursing home's finances and your loved one's health may be closer than you think.

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