SPRINGFIELD, Ill., May 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Health Care Council of Illinois (HCCI), a leading voice for the nursing home community in Illinois, brought its multi-city bus tour to Springfield today in an effort to rally opposition to Governor Pat Quinn's proposed 6 percent cuts in Medicaid funding. Prior to arriving in the Capitol, the group made seven stops at nursing homes and rehab facilities throughout Chicagoland drawing large crowds of supporters.
"This is about the quality of care for our seniors, it's about the safety of our nursing home residents and it's about jobs," Pat Comstock, executive director of HCCI, said. "Our Medicaid residents get more care than the State pays for and they have been for years. It just doesn't work anymore. These cuts are equivalent to 7,000 critical direct care jobs."
The news conference and rally at the Capitol Care Center in Springfield took aim at across-the-board budget cuts that would have a devastating impact on nursing homes across Illinois. "We need to be very clear about the negative impact these cuts will have on our residents," said Cindy Schaaf, Capitol Care Administrator. "I have to believe lawmakers and the Governor can find other places to cut."
The rally at Capitol Care as well as those held at nursing facilities in Chicagoland included nursing home staff and residents, their family members, elected officials, and concerned citizens. Chants of "Stop the Cuts" could be heard at every event.
In Evanston, at The Grove Nursing Home, resident Steve Ward remarked that there are all kinds of people who need nursing homes; sick people who are trying to live the best life that they can. "This place saved my life," he said.
In Des Plaines, resident Julia Conkin had a message for lawmakers if they passed the cuts. "We would have to move and start over," she said. "Please don't take away my home."
The budget proposed by Governor Quinn would slash 6 percent or $70 million of state Medicaid funding that nursing homes currently receive in addition to federal matching funds. The total loss would equal $140 million. That critical funding provides such care as specialized rehabilitation beds and restrictive diets for residents. Without those dollars, 7,000 senior care workers would lose their jobs, jeopardizing safety measures recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly.
"We have streamlined our operations to the max," Comstock argued. "These cuts will make it impossible to offer the same level of care as we do today. It cannot be done. We understand the financial hole that the state is in. What we don't understand is the shortsighted approach to fixing the problem."
HCCI is touring the state to generate awareness for the campaign to Stop Cuts to Nursing Home Care. The multi-city tour is rallying nursing home staff, residents and residents' families at 17 facilities around the common goal of ensuring quality care, safety and jobs.
The events are also honoring elected officials who support initiatives that improve the quality of life for nursing home residents across the state and asking them to pledge to Stop Cuts to Nursing Home Care.
The Health Care Council of Illinois (HCCI) is a professional association of more than 500 nursing facilities committed to quality residential health care in Illinois through a productive and responsible partnership between the private and public sectors. HCCI represents more than 80,000 nursing home professionals serving more than 80,000 residents.
SOURCE The Health Care Council of Illinois