April 04, 2024

AFSCME-backed bill would put brakes on selling, closing public nursing homes

State legislation supported by AFSCME Council 31 would give county residents a stronger voice on questions of sales or closures of nursing homes. HB 5537 would also require counties to be more transparent about the negative effects those sales or closures could have on the community.

In recent years, venture capitalists have increasingly viewed county-owned nursing homes as attractive targets.

This problem has manifested itself at county homes such as in DeKalb County, where workers are represented by AFSCME Local 3537. A potential sale of that facility was nixed by the county board when it was revealed that a previously rejected buyer had concealed its ownership structure and would have become the home’s majority owner.

County homes are vitally important, especially for Illinois seniors. Accessible to all, regardless of income or ability to pay, public nursing homes ensure that older individuals have the opportunity to age in their communities, close to their loved ones and important landmarks in their lives, without financial considerations.

County homes are also particularly important for Illinois’ Medicaid population, which is underserved by for-profit and non-profit nursing homes, and for rural seniors, who have fewer options for long-term care.

Sponsored by Rep. Yolanda Morris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Maurice West (D-Rockford), the bill would require any county considering selling its home to issue a report on the community impact and be more transparent about the would-be buyer.

The bill would further eliminate the prospect of any backroom political deals by forcing all potential sales, closures or leases to be voted on in a public referendum, so voters in the county can have their voices heard.

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