Regulatory change in Illinois makes it easier to close hospitals

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation last summer that relaxed regulations governing hospital closures in the state. The change has recently been thrown into the spotlight with the proposed closure of a hospital in Chicago Heights, Ill.

In January, Mishawaka, Ind.-based Franciscan St. James Health submitted a proposal to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to close its 312-bed Chicago Heights hospital. Residents who would be affected by the closure voiced their concerns to the state health planning board last week. However, under a new Illinois law, their worries will have no bearing on the board's decision.

Leglisation, signed by Gov. Rauner in July, eliminated the state health planning board's discretion regarding a hospital closure. Although privately owned hospitals must notify the state board of plans to close a facility, the board no longer has authority to stop the closure, according to the Chicago Tribune.
According to the report, the Illinois Hospital Association lobbied for the change. The group's members wanted more flexibility and to eliminate the lengthy review process associated with discontinuing services or closing a facility, an IHA spokesman told the Chicago Tribune.  

The regulatory change has drawn opposition as well. John Steen, immediate past president of the American Health Planning Association, told the Chicago Tribune, "The whole idea behind community health planning is that the community deserves to have a voice in what goes on. You don't want to close a hospital without considering alternatives."

More articles on healthcare finance:

Cleveland Clinic's Lakewood Hospital ceases inpatient services
California hospital relies on bankrupt district to make payroll
Mayo Clinic to close Wisconsin clinic

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