Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale) shared her concern for safety net hospitals at a House Appropriations Human Services Committee hearing on hospital assessment Tuesday.
Before the start of the almost three-hour long meeting, Bellock thanked committee members for their bipartisan support and hospital agencies and managed care organizations because “it was essential to hear at all time from all parties” regarding a high-level proposal for a new and revised hospital assessment program valued at $3.5 billion that is solely based on matching federal agency funds.
“Health care is the backbone of the state of Illinois and is one of the most important issues not only in Illinois but in the United States,” Bellock said, adding the last five years have been transformative with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Managed Care Act and now the hospital assessment. “We have tried to keep in consideration everybody, not just state, not just downstate, every health care facility in Illinois.”
Bellock said assisting safety net hospitals which have the “most important and fragile populations” is to assure both access and quality health care.
“That’s the mission of what we are trying to do and do it well,” Bellock said. “Having access to the $3.5 billion coming into the state that’s why this issue is so crucial so all people throughout Illinois get the help that they deserve.”
During the meeting Bellock stressed the importance of safety net and critical access hospitals, an issue she said the committee has spent almost half of its time on over the last few months, before asking of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President of Hospitals and Health Systems Ann Igoe if they are not interested in safety net hospitals being anything other than a regular sick bay.
“I can’t speak on behalf of safety net hospitals, however, what we know in these communities is that when you take out access to an ER and you move out the service of a full hospital and having an ER in these communities you are then changing your travel time from seven miles to 15 miles and that is the difference of life and death,” Iago said.
After the hearing, safety net hospital workers held a press conference calling Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Illinois Hospital Association to produce “a fair and equitable hospital assessment."
According to a press release, the transformation process Bellock spoke of is putting safety net hospitals at risk of closure which "would disproportionately harm poor communities and communities of color."