Hearing offers little detail about hospital assessment changes - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Hearing offers little detail about hospital assessment changes

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SPRINGFIELD -- Efforts to revamp the way Illinois pays out Medicaid funds are drawing criticism from union leaders.

Lawmakers must act on the state's hospital assessment program before it expires in July. They held their first hearing on the matter Tuesday in Springfield.

Officials were light on specifics at today's hearing. They're hoping to replace a formula that relies on numbers from 2005 to 2009, but several hospitals that serve lower-income patients worry it could mean steep funding cuts.

Committee members grilled representatives of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, a lobbying group at the center of talks, but those lobbyists didn't offer any specifics about where the talks stand now.

The lack of specifics upset Anne Igoe, a representative of the Service Employees International Union.

"Our communities are already struggling with poverty, joblessness, increased violence and lack of access to health care, which is why safety net (hospitals) need more funding and resources, not less," Igoe said.

Most of the discussion Tuesday focused on the impact to safety net hospitals in Chicago but it could impact rural hospitals in southern Illinois.

The CEO of Hardin County Hospital previously told News 3 that some preliminary numbers showed them losing $1 million, nearly 50 percent of the hospitals overall budget.

The next hearing on this issue has not been set and no bill has been filed yet for lawmakers to vote on.

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