Friday, May 20, 2011
by Chicago Tribune editorial staff
Last week a useless state board told Cook County it must keep
spending money it doesn't have on a hospital it doesn't need.
Fortunately, this boneheaded decision didn't go unnoticed.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, introduced an amendment this week that would put Cook County's public health system largely beyond the pernicious reach of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.
for Currie. The measure could reach the House floor for a vote as early
as Friday. Let's get it to the governor's desk as quickly as possible.
There's no time to delay. Cook County
wants to shut the emergency room and inpatient services at Oak Forest
Hospital and convert the hospital to a regional outpatient facility.
Medical personnel have already been reassigned. The county has no money
to spend on Oak Forest's inpatient services beyond June 1.
not a hasty move. The independent board that runs county health care
spent months planning how to revamp that care so it better served the
public and saved money. But the state review board turned down the
county's plan. All it took was one no voteóbecause Gov. Pat Quinn hasn't filled three vacancies on the review board.And there you go. Four board members voted for the county plan. One voted against. The plan was spiked.
County officials believe they have the legal right to shut Oak Forest anyway. The state can't order
them to run a hospital. We'd like to see the county challenge the
authority of this review board, which we've tried to persuade the state
Legislature to disband for years. But county officials tell us they're
worried that such a move would prompt a legal challenge and possibly a
loss of Medicaid funding.
Currie's amendment would circumvent all that messiness.
Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board is supposed to
manage health care expansion in the state. In truth, it protects
hospitals from competition and stands in the way of innovation.
good, let's move quickly on Currie's amendment to exempt Cook County's
public health services from the regulatory second-guessers of this
And then, let's exempt all of Cook County from the board.
And then, let's exempt all of Illinois from the board.
Can we do that? Finally? Please?