State Officials continue Hospital Assessment Negotiations

2/7/2018, noon | Updated on 2/7/2018, noon
“Our overall goal for the program going forward should be to ensure that payments to hospitals follow services for Medicaid ...
State Rep. Marcus Evans

State Officials continue Hospital Assessment Negotiations

By Christopher Shuttlesworth

The Illinois General Assembly-House Human Services

Committee recently held a meeting in Springfield to continue ongoing

negotiations on the Illinois Hospital Assessment program, which funnels billions of dollars annually to help fund Medicaid services to the state’s poorest residents at safety-net hospitals like Jackson Park and Roseland.

But this could end if a financial agreement isn’t resolved by the State for Governor Bruce Rauner to reinstate the program by June 30, 2018.

Illinois State Representative Marcus Evans, who attended the recent Springfield meeting on the Illinois hospital assessment program, said Illinois has to put a hospital assessment program into law that yields a good result for all hospitals. He said the problem is that some of the proposed hospital assessments have not been good for safety-net hospitals like Jackson Park.

Safety-net hospitals currently employ 25,000 people statewide and the hospital assessment program generates $4 billion dollars each year for hospitals, according to the Association of Safety-Net Community Hospitals.

“Our federal government won’t be able to give us federal dollars, [if the program isn’t reinstated] which will be problematic because they provide a large amount of money for the state of Illinois to operate Medicaid,” Evans said. “So, if residents don’t have their formula, it will be a disaster.”

He continued to say he supports safety-net hospitals because they’re community hospitals specifically designed to deliver good health care and services to neighborhood residents.

“We’re going to get it done, but the [hospital assessment program] has to be good for all hospitals, especially the safety-net hospitals,” Evans said. “I can’t support the Hospital Assessment right now because it’s not properly funding safety-net hospitals,” Evans said.

“The hope is that with the help of the Illinois Hospital Association and members of the Illinois General Assembly, we can get a better hospital assessment to protect safety-net hospitals.”

John Hoffman, communications director for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, said safety net hospitals have always been an important part of the department’s mission to provide healthcare access in struggling communities and will continue being part of the evolving healthcare delivery system in Illinois.

“Our overall goal for the program going forward should be to ensure that payments to hospitals follow services for Medicaid beneficiaries,” Hoffman said. “Dollars should be invested in a way that makes sure quality care is provided to those with limited resources, regardless of where they live.”