ILLINOIS (WEHT) – Governor Pritzker has signed a nursing home rate legislation reform known as House Bill 246 that will hold owners of nursing homes accountable by putting new funding toward improving care for senior citizens.

“Under HB 246, we are carving the path for well-funded, well-staffed nursing homes with workers who have the training to provide quality care,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “I have had the opportunity to hear from nursing home workers, who shared what it’s like to be stretched thin and how transformative this legislation can be. With this bill, we are building a better future for residents and workers alike with their voices at the forefront.”

A press release says the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) spends over $2.5 billion annually to care for about 45,000 nursing home residents who are enrolled in the Medicaid program, which accounts for nearly 70% of nursing home residents in the state. The new reform legislation ties new funding to accountability and transparency for nursing facilities by adopting the federal Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM), which is meant to reflect the clinical care needs of residents and requires the disclosure of all individual nursing home ownership interests more accurately.

The press release says the Medicaid program will repay nursing homes that opt in for their share of the cost of the wage scale increase. For some facilities, Medicaid will fund virtually the entire cost of the scale. The scale is structured so that CNAs will receive an increase for each year of their experience in Illinois nursing homes.

A press release from the state of Illinois says that for those with at least one year of experience, their wage will increase by at least $1.50 per hour, and Medicaid will pay its share of that $1.50 increase. The pay increase goes up by $1 for each year of experience, topping out at a $6.50 per hour increase for those with six or more years of experience in nursing homes. The legislation also allows for a $1.50 per hour wage increase to accompany qualifying promotions, which is in addition to the experience-based wage increases. Medicaid will fund its share of this increase too, up to 10-15% of nursing home CNAs.

“This bill provides groundbreaking reform by addressing a crucial problem in Illinois nursing homes–the fact that far too often, facilities fail to invest public funding in workers in ways that support safe staffing, living wages and a sustainable workforce,” said Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois which represents over 12,000 nursing home workers in hundreds of facilities throughout the state. “By signing this bill into law… the legislation provides for a direct pass through of funding to certified nursing assistants, who have long provided the majority of direct hands-on care to residents while often working for poverty-level wages. Investing in these workers ensures that they can make a career out of providing care for the residents they love without shortchanging their own families financially.”

The law goes into effect July 1, pending federal approval.