Breen, Brady question bill allowing pension fund to pay nursing home bills for certain disabled residents
Before giving their nod, two Republican lawmakers wanted to know about offering more authority to the Cook County Pension Fund.
Introduced at the May 24 House floor debate, SB2578, sponsored by Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago), would amend the Illinois Pension Code for Cook County and allow legally disabled residents living in a Medicare-based nursing home or mental institution who do not have a blood relative or state guardian to have their residential bill paid by the local pension board.
According to Martwick, the bill is specifically being passed for five present annuitants in need of the assistance, which, to Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard), was questionable.
“Why do we need to give the pension fund this new power to pay out monies to different entities?” Breen asked.
It is needed in the five cases and possibly in the future, Martwick said.
“You are dealing with annuitants who are severely disabled, and there is no one else to pay this,” Martwick said. “They don’t have a guardian, so this allows them to get that payment directly to the nursing home to make sure care is provided properly.”
Breen confirmed that by passing the bill, the Cook County Pension Fund could pay the monthly fee without requiring a court guardianship over the individual.
“That is correct,” Martwick said.
In theory, the process could save money for not only the individual but also for the court system, Breen added. After Martwick said that is the hope of the legislation, Breen said the bill would not cost any additional funds.
Rep. Dan Brady (R-Normal) asked if SB2578 specifically states what the annuitants’ funds can be used to pay. Martwick noted the bill, as originally drafted, was to pay for the housing of five individuals.
“As I said, they are in a Medicare-approved state-certified nursing home, publicly owned nursing home, or hospital or mental institution,” Martwick said.
Because the benefit level is so low, the full cost of the residential care is likely not even covered by the pension allotment, according to the sponsor.
“It’s just allowing us to expedite that payment directly to them,” Martwick said.
Confirming he was clear on what the sponsor was detailing, Brady repeated Martwick's bill description.
“So it's just moving the payment toward the provider to the long-term care facility or whoever is providing the care and we are not talking paying pharmacists bills?” Brady asked.
The entire House floor also agreed with the bill, passing SB2578 unanimously at 105-0, which will now move to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk for approval.