(March 13, 2018, Chicago) – SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, the union that represents several safety net hospitals in Chicago and East St. Louis, issued a statement after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the new hospital assessment and federal Medicaid funding formula into law.
Safety net hospital workers strongly criticized Gov. Rauner and his administration for endangering the Hospital Provider Assessment program and the entire $3.5 billion in federal Medicaid funding by waiting until the very last minute to pass the bill, which now must be approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Despite having three years to address and pass a new hospital assessment during the Governor’s entire time in office, Rauner was essentially absent during the process and showed little leadership or concern about the potential risk of safety net hospitals being forced to close due to severe cuts and loss of federal Medicaid funding.
Gov. Rauner’s gross mismanagement of the process and the complete lack of transparency from both Rauner’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) contributed to this result. Safety nets still do not have the resources to expand access to quality healthcare to low-income patients and families that serve communities of color.
Dramatically investing in safety net hospitals has the potential to improve health disparities among communities of color, provide more job security and better wages for hospital workers providing care, and thereby strengthening the overall local economy. But that vision and opportunity was not realized by Gov. Rauner nor the IHA.
“Despite Gov. Rauner’s absent leadership during the debate to protect our safety net hospitals, we nonetheless thank the state legislators from both sides of the aisle, 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.
The hospital assessment includes a sunset provision in 2020 that will require lawmakers to vote to renew and preserve the vital program.
“Moving forward, we will demand an open and transparent process that includes all relevant stakeholders, especially our frontline hospital workers at our safety nets, to have a real and substantive voice in this process. As we stated before, the IHA should not have so much power and influence over the Medicaid program in Illinois,” said Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana.
Greg Kelley added, “We honor and deeply appreciate our safety net hospital workers and community leaders who mobilized and got engaged on this issue. The hard work and grassroots activism from our member leaders proved to be instrumental and more proof why organizing is absolutely essential to fight powerful corporate interests.”