* An interesting development…
May 17, 2013
Honorable Pat Quinn
Office of the Governor
207 Illinois State Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
Dear Governor Quinn,
Re: Hamos Executive Appointment Rejection Letter dated March 23, 2013
On occasion, there are policies and issues that galvanize the African American and Latino Caucuses. We convey to you for your edification the unified sentiment of our respective caucuses that Director Hamos is not deserving of our vote of confidence. Director Hamos has demonstrated her priority to care for the poor and the institutions that they rely on is secondary to simply cutting the budget regardless of the consequences. We do not support her confirmation as the Director of HFS. You would be better served by new leadership that is in line with your compassion and commitment to those who are less fortunate and not one that governs by “executive fiat”. It has been your “imprimatur” of being on the side of the most vulnerable.
Subsequently, over the years, our communities have been disenfranchised by the policies and actions of the current HFS administration. How loudly do the downtrodden and disenfranchised of our communities have to call out Director Hamos to stop elitist policies and listen to the cries of the community without input from the legislature and safety net hospital leaders? How many hospitals in economically distressed communities have to go bankrupt? How many healthcare employees have to lose their jobs? How many people with mental illness, back and forth from the fringes of society, have to be thrown in jail? How many undocumented residents have to continue to be kicked to the curb?
The plans that HFS have implemented will lead to the closing of safety net hospitals, some sooner, some later, leaving African American, Latino and low income families without access to healthcare in their own communities. This will be a moral and economic catastrophe. Some hospital budgets are now artificially inflated by temporary federal government subsidies for their implementation of Electronic Health Records, and when these payments end and HFS’s rate reductions are realized, hospitals will shut down. Consequently, our constituents will be forced to travel incredible distances to healthcare institutions that don’t want them.
We have concluded, after consultation with the care providers that take care of the poor, that the following are policies that need to be addressed immediately:
• Rate Reform: Once rate reform is finalized, HFS needs to make up for any decreases in payment and to increase payments to support a 4% operating margin. This margin is necessary to offset inflation and to permit hospitals to invest in new equipment and technology. Annual inflationary increases to payment levels also need to be made.
• Movement to Managed Care: HFS is planning to move patients to HMOs, but this will cause the state to lose $1 billion in federal funds. HFS must rethink this so we do not lose these critical federal dollars that support healthcare for the poor.
• New/Increased Provider Tax: HFS’s failure to make this happen has cost Illinois and our safety net hospitals millions in increased federal funding this year. This issue needs to be resolved immediately.
• Readmission Penalty: HFS’s plan will send half of the hospital penalty back to Washington with no benefit to Illinois’ budget, causing unnecessary hardship on our hospitals. The method of taking back the penalty needs to be changed so that only half of the amount is taken from the hospitals and no funds are returned to Washington. Psychiatric patients, who are in and out of hospitals frequently, should be excluded completely.
• Healthcare for the Undocumented: Undocumented immigrants are contributing members of our communities, and safety net hospitals continue to provide care to them. HFS needs to support its safety net hospitals in their efforts to provide this care because the Affordable Care Act will not.
We urge you to take the State of Illinois in a new direction that is better serving for patients who depend on you as well as the safety net hospitals that take care of them. Both of the undersigned stand ready to meet with you to discuss this matter of grave importance.
Hon. Martin Sandoval
Hon. Donne Trotter
Emphasis added. “Unified sentiment of our respective caucuses” refers to the Senate Latino and Black caucuses.
Not something to be ignored.