URGENT: Take Action NOW to protect Champaign County Nursing Home

If you are a Champaign County resident, please help protect the Champaign County Nursing Home by calling or e-mailing your County Board Members today, in advance of tonight’s special County Board Meeting. (See Take Action section to learn how you can help.)

Tonight, the County Board is holding a Special Meeting at 6 p.m. to focus on the Champaign County Nursing Home (CCNH) and to approve the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for sale or disposal of the CCNH. Please see below for information about the RFP and why it should be opposed, and also how to take action. Also, at the bottom of this message, there are a number of articles regarding for-profit nursing homes and the likelihood that YOU will end up in a nursing home – these articles are important for understanding why we need to fight so hard to protect the CCNH.

The County Board meets tonight at 6:00 p.m. in the Lyle Shields Meeting Room at Brookens Administrative Center, located at 1776 E. Washington Street in Urbana.

You can see the Agenda and attached materials, including the RFP for tonight’s Special Meeting here:

About the RFP for sale of the CCNH and why it should be opposed
The main reason that the RFP for sale of the CCNH should be opposed at this point in time is that there has been no public process for input into the development of the RFP. The community’s needs and concerns have not been taken into account.

The timeline for the sale of the CCNH in the RFP states: “Select Qualified Buyer and Close Bidding Process After March 19, 2018 and Before May 1, 2018”. The clock starts ticking tonight!

Here are some items in the RFP that deserve greater scrutiny, discussion and input:

Sale Terms: The RFP states that a minimum acceptable purchase proposal is $11 million dollars. Has there been a valuation of the CCNH? There should be greater transparency about any valuation of the CCNH and how this amount was arrived at.


Longevity of nursing home: The RFP requires that the purchaser maintain the facility for 10 years. Is 10 years acceptable to the community, after the nursing home has been in operation in our community for approximately 100 years?

Commitment to rehire all of the existing employees who pass a background check, not terminate 10% or more of the employees within the first 60 days following the Closing Date and not terminate 20% or more of the current employees during the first 6 months after Closing Date…:  Are these terms acceptable to the community? Is the community willing to tolerate the possibility of up to 30% layoffs of current employees within the first 6 months?

Priorities for admissions for Champaign County residents: Champaign County residents will be given first priority for admission to the nursing home for a period of 10 years. Is this acceptable, after the nursing home has been in our community for approximately 100 years? Our taxpayer dollars have supported the nursing home all these years, yet priority for admission if you’re a Champaign County resident will only extend for 10 years under this RFP.

Set aside of a minimum of 50% of the beds for Medicaid patients for no less than 10 years: Is this acceptable? Should the set aside be higher? Should it specify Champaign County residents? These issues should be discussed publicly.

Public accountability: There is no requirement in the RFP for public accountability. The RFP merely states “An issue of concern to the County in any potential sale is reduced public accountability for the operations of the CCNH, and the related issues of how responsible or accountable a new owner would be to the public. How will the Proposer address that issue (i.e., how will it propose to work with and be accountable to the community)?”  The community may want to have actual requirements for public accountability, even as it may solicit ideas from the Proposer.

The RFP does not address the Adult Day Care Program: One of the programs that the CCNH has been providing is an Adult Day Care program for community members. What happens to this program if the CCNH is sold? Are there any provisions that could be made to maintain this program?

The bottom line is this:  Our community should have some say and input into the RFP. There should be greater transparency in the development of the RFP.

Take Action to Protect the Champaign County Nursing Home
Please take action today by sending e-mails and/or making phone calls to the County Board Chair and to your two County Board representatives. You can also attend tonight’s County Board Special Meeting at 6:00 p.m. at Brookens (1776 E. Washington Street in Urbana) and speak during Public Participation. Here is the agenda for tonight’s meeting:

Take Action – Here is the message:
Contact your County Board Members with this message:
I urge you to reject the proposed RFP for the sale of the Champaign County Nursing Home. There should be more of a public process, and public input, into developing the RFP. The CCNH belongs to all of us, and we should have a say into the sale of this valued community asset. 

(Feel free to add to this message with your personal opinion, experience, or other information detailed in this message.)

Please also contact the County Board Chair, Pius Weibel, with the same message:
Home: 398-6117 / Cell: 840-5367 / E-mail: cweibel@co.champaign.il.us

Figuring out who your County Board Members are:
If you are not sure who your County Board Members are, or how to contact them, you can find the information online.

Here is the list of County Board Members with maps so you can see their districts and find your own members:

Reasons that we should worry about selling CCNH to a private for-profit company:
Private nursing homes engaging in certain business transactions have the worst outcomes for patients:

More than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And many of us will have to rely on Medicaid to pay for the costs:

Regardless of contracts, provisions, and fines, private for-profit nursing homes are not guaranteed to stay open – in fact, in the last few months, several Illinois private for-profit nursing homes closed abruptly without proper notice to residents:

Lincoln Manor nursing home closure – Decatur – Sept. 2017

Oak Terrace nursing home closure – Springfield – Sept. 2017

Prairie View Center nursing home closure – Lewistown (Peoria area) – Sept. 2017

Background information on the CCNH:
The Champaign County Nursing Home (CCNH) is an important community health asset, but it is in financial distress largely as a result of the State of Illinois’ failures to make Medicaid payments.

What’s happening with the CCNH
The County Board is moving quickly on a path toward selling the CCNH (most likely to a for-profit corporation), following the outcome of the two Nursing Home referenda this past April. One referendum on the ballot asked about raising property taxes to help fund the Nursing Home. It failed. The other referendum asked about the sale or “disposal” of the Nursing Home. It passed.

Did you know that the referenda are not binding? That’s right. The County Board does not have to sell or dispose of the CCNH, based on the referendum outcome.  However, the financial difficulties remain.

The question is: might it be possible that the CCNH could be turned around financially, and not have to be sold? With a new management company that specializes in helping distressed nursing homes, and with community involvement to help the CCNH, we believe it could be possible!

Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC) Position on the CCNH
CCHCC believes that we, as a community, should work to save the Champaign County Nursing Home. Selling this important public health care asset to a for-profit corporation would be a tremendous loss to our community, and there are many reasons to fear a decline in quality of care. To learn more about CCHCC’s position on the Champaign County Nursing Home, and why we supported a property tax increase and opposed the referendum to sell or dispose of the CCNH, please see our action alert from March of this year:


Thank you for taking action to protect the Champaign County Nursing Home!I


URGENT: Urbana Residents Take Action TODAY to protect local funding for the poor

If you live in Urbana (which is also Cunningham Township), you may have seen or read recent stories about the Cunningham Township Assessor and his actions in hiring and firing certain staff.


To be clear – this is a personnel issue and the public is, rightfully, not privy to a lot of information regarding that issue.

However, what has emerged out of the public attention is a move by Urbana City Council members to consider getting rid of the Township altogether. 

CCHCC is asking you to take action TODAY to contact Urbana City Council members to urge them to slow down and hold off on making any rash decisions regarding the dissolution of the Township.

Any consideration of dismantling the Township should require a robust discussion in our community. A personnel issue – unrelated to the relevance of the Township and what it does – should not be the driver of a decision to dismantle a local unit of government.

Please see below for more information about the Township and why CCHCC opposes a move to dissolve it, and how you can take action.

Social Services provided by Cunningham Township
Cunningham Township is the township that corresponds to the City of Urbana – its geographic boundaries are the same as the City of Urbana. Because of this, Urbana City Council members also serve as the Cunningham Township Board.

The Township has two sections: the Township Supervisor’s office, and the Assessor’s office.

The Cunningham Township Supervisor’s office provides very important social services that form a safety net of last-resort for Urbana residents who do not qualify for other forms of assistance, such as welfare (TANF) or SSI. Most of the clients served by the Cunningham Township are single individuals, with no minor children, who have become disabled and unable to work, but who have not yet qualified for Social Security Disability (a grueling process that can take years). Cunningham Township provides monthly cash assistance for those who qualify. Cunningham Township also has emergency housing programs to help prevent the homeless from sleeping outside or residents from being evicted from housing. Many CCHCC clients benefit from these life-sustaining services, and Cunningham Township is an important resource for our clients.

Assistance from Cunningham Township can literally mean saving someone’s life – saving their life from the ravages and dangers of homelessness, despair, from disintegration and poor health.

Your local property tax dollars help fund these services (even if you don’t own your home, but rent, your landlord’s property tax costs are passed on to you through your rent). In addition, Cunningham Township also provides funding for social service organizations. CCHCC is a grateful beneficiary of this funding, and it helps support our work in serving Urbana residents.


Can the City of Urbana absorb ALL the functions of Cunningham Township?
This is an issue that warrants robust public discussion. From my perspective, it is difficult for me to see how the City of Urbana could absorb and then carry out the functions of the Township, especially with regard to Social Services provided to needy individuals.

Township Supervisors have great latitude in how to carry out their duties and how to provide services with the funding they receive. Under the leadership of the current Township Supervisor, Danielle Chynoweth, the Township is now providing more services to more residents, including services to help prevent homelessness. The Township office is nimble and capable of responding to clients’ and the community’s needs in a way that city governments are not equipped to do. They always answer the phone, welcome walk-in appointments, and can provide support right away in emergency situations. Furthermore, if the Township is abolished, funding for these services may go away. The City is unlikely to increase funding for social services. In fact, when their budget got tight, funding for social services was one of the first categories of funding that got cut.

What the City Council could do to dismantle the Township:
Last year, at Governor Bruce Rauner’s urging, the Illinois General Assembly passed new legislation that makes it easier for local elected officials to abolish or consolidate township government in Illinois. The process for doing so would involve putting a referendum on the November ballot. The referendum would simply say something like: “Shall the Township of (name of township) cease?” And it would be a binding referendum.

The referendum language makes no provision, nor does it bind upon the City of Urbana, the requirement to assume all of the functions of the Township, such as the social services provided to individuals.

One argument against Townships is that these local offices are antiquated and they are a historical artifact that create inefficiencies without serving any real purpose.  An alternative perspective – CCHCC’s perspective – is that Cunningham Township serves a vital and very local purpose, and it is certainly not duplicative or redundant. Abolishing Cunningham Township would take away important resources in our community, and this decision should not be made in the heat of the moment – heat created by an unrelated personnel issue.

Take Action!
Urbana residents: Please help by taking action TODAY!
(Not an Urbana resident? You can still weigh in, since homelessness and social service funding is a community-wide issue.)

The Cunningham Township Board (whose members are also all Urbana City Council members) is meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the Urbana City Building. You can help in two ways:

  1. Send a message to all Cunningham Township Board (and therefore Urbana City Council) members over e-mail, opposing the move to dissolve the Township by referendum; or
  2. Attend the Cunningham Township Board Meeting and speak during public participation.

Here are the resources to help you take these actions.
Agenda and meeting information for tonight’s meeting:

How to contact all Township Board/City Council Members through one e-mail address:
You can just send a message to one e-mail address, and it will reach all members: CityCouncil@UrbanaIllinois.us

For individual members’ contact information, you can see here:

And for the Mayor’s contact information, please see here:

Sample message:
“I am a resident of the City of Urbana and Cunningham Township. I am contacting you to urge you to move slowly and cautiously on any decision that would cause the Township to cease to exist. Our community deserves the right to learn more about the Township office and the important services provided to our community before a decision is made to place this question on the ballot for a binding referendum. Personnel issues with the Assessor’s office should not be a cause or a pretext to dismantle social services in our community. Thank you.”

Feel free to personalize your message.

Recent articles and editorials in The News-Gazette: