Personal Injury

Illinois nursing home advocates fight proposed bill to refund fines

State Sen. Dan Kotowski said he had good intentions when he sponsored a bill in the Illinois General Assembly that would refund fines paid by nursing homes that promised to use the money to improve care at their facilities. But opponents of the bill say it is faulty and would only “eliminate the financial disincentive for bad behavior,” according to the State Journal-Register.

Sen. Kotowski says the basis of the bill is to ensure that problems at nursing homes get fixed. The Illinois Department of Public Health would be charged with overseeing the system and deciding if homes were using the refunded fines to remedy problems. If passed, Illinois would become the only state to refund nursing home fines.

“We really want to use the enforcement system to fix the problem,” said Terry Sullivan, a representative with the nursing home advocacy group Health Care Council of Illinois. “Why take funding away from the facility just when they need it?”

Wendy Meltzer, director of the Illinois Citizens for Better Care said the idea of refunding moneys paid by nursing homes that have been cited for abuse or neglect in “the rape or death of a resident is ‘morally repugnant,’” according to the news report.

The bill will also siphon funds from a special state fund that currently pays for Public Health employees to monitor troubled nursing homes and who take temporary control over troubled facilities.

Facing mounting opposition, Sen. Kotowski says he is willing to modify the legislation to please both sides for the greater good of those living in nursing homes.