(February 28, 2018, Chicago) – SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, the union that represents several safety net hospitals in Chicago and East St. Louis, responded to the passage of the new hospital assessment and federal Medicaid funding formula by the House and Senate.
“We thank the state legislators from both sides of the aisles, and from both chambers, who worked together to pass this new Hospital Provider Assessment. We especially applaud Rep. Greg Harris, Chair of the Human Services Appropriations Committee, for his leadership on this issue,” said Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana.
Safety net workers called on Governor Rauner to quickly sign this bill so that the federal government at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) can approve any new Medicaid funding formula in a timely manner to avoid any delay or disruption of Medicaid payments to Illinois’ hospitals.
The hospital assessment is the vital funding mechanism for safety-net and community hospitals throughout Illinois. This new hospital assessment that was just passed, however, is far from perfect both from its final version and the process by which it was enacted.
Hospital workers continue to be frustrated and disappointed by the fact that the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) produced this assessment without any transparency or allowed public scrutiny of their proposal before lawmakers were asked to vote on the measure.
The IHA exerted an enormous amount of power and clout over the state’s Medicaid system. The IHA essentially drafted and controlled the assessment and review process from start to finish without meaningful input from other stakeholders including community groups, public health advocates, healthcare worker organizations, and healthcare providers.
From the perspective of good, fair and transparent governance, our state lawmakers must challenge and reassert the legislature’s authority over Illinois’ Medicaid funding, especially considering the fact that $3.5 billion of federal dollars were on the line.
“No industry, such as the IHA, should have this much sway over public policy and use that power to the benefit of wealthy and corporate hospital systems,” said SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley.
Frontline hospital workers are the essential foundation that allow hospitals to function. These workers must be paid at least a starting wage of $15 an hour, be given the right to join a union to have a real voice on the job, be able to afford quality healthcare themselves, and be treated with respect. The future of providing quality healthcare at Illinois’ hospitals is dependent on it.