Seniors and Nursing Home Providers Concerned about State Senate Candidate Neil Anderson’s Pledge to Cut Medicaid
QUAD CITIES, ILL. October 14, 2014– The Health Care Council of Illinois (HCCI), a leading voice for nursing home communities, brought together State Representative Patrick J. Verschoore (D-Milan), seniors, and nursing home residents and providers today to fight for adequate Medicaid funding. The news conference at Rock Island Nursing & Rehabilitation Center urged State Senate candidate Neil Anderson to answer why he plans to cut Medicaid funding to care for frail, vulnerable seniors living in nursing homes.
“In 2011, the state legislature restructured the entire Medicaid program, including funding for nursing home residents. ” Pat Comstock, executive director of Health Care Council of Illinois, said. “Any arbitrary cuts to Medicaid, like those promised by Neil Anderson, means our residents will suffer. Illinois can’t balance the budget on the backs of nursing home residents with Medicaid. We can’t stand by when frail, elderly nursing home residents are at risk of being denied critical, life-sustaining medical services.”
HCCI and other nursing home provider associations have worked with Representative Verschoore and State Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) during the last several years to create policies that support quality care for nursing home residents. Both know cuts to Medicaid lead to job losses in the community. More than 1,700 people are employed at nursing homes in Rock Island, Mercer and Henry counties full time, and many more than that work part time. Neil Anderson’s campaign promises puts those jobs in jeopardy.
“When I heard Neal Anderson say he wants to cut Medicaid, I was stunned. It shows a lack of understanding and knowledge of the issues, and his lack of experience in issues important to our community,” State Representative Patrick J. Verschoore said. “Nursing home residents are our most valued citizens. They built our community, raised families, worked hard and served our county. If we arbitrarily cut Medicaid before looking for other ways to cut costs, we would be abandoning senior citizens in their time of need. It’s simply unconscionable.”
Nursing home residents and other senior citizens in the community attended the event, as well as staff from Rock Island Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. They are concerned about State Senate candidate Neil Anderson’s campaign promise to make cuts to the state’s Medicaid program.
“We have people who come here for a few months for rehab before they return home, and we have residents who will spend the rest of their lives here. Regardless of the length of their stay, our residents consider this place their home,” Elizabeth Webster, administrator at Rock Island Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, said. “Many of our residents who currently have Medicaid originally entered our nursing home with insurance or as private pay. After their personal resources were exhausted, they transition to Medicaid to make sure they continue to get the care they need. We can’t kick them out on the street when they can no longer pay for their care.”
There are approximately 1,500 nursing home residents in this area. More than 50 percent of those residents rely on Medicaid to pay for their care. Of those who call Rock Island Nursing and Rehabilitation Center their home, 91 percent have Medicaid. Cuts would affect the whole nursing home community. It impacts our ability to have quality food, quality staff and quality surroundings. All these elements are key to quality care and to create a home-like environment.
Candidate Neil Anderson must explain his campaign pledge to arbitrarily cut Medicaid. We must have elected officials like Representative Verschoore and Senator Jacobs who understand the issues important to nursing home residents.
The Health Care Council of Illinois (HCCI) is an association of more than 270 skilled nursing and rehab facilities committed to quality residential health care in Illinois through a productive and responsible partnership between the private and public sectors.