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“Anti-consumer, but pro-politician”

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* From a reader…


Thought you might be interested in this opinion from the Third District Appellate Court, Mercy Crystal Lake Hospital and Medical Center v. Illinois Health Facilities and Service Review Board, 2016 IL App (3d) 130847.

I have no involvement in the case, but found it interesting while reviewing cases because two of the justices, Holdridge and Schmidt, offer insight into what Holdridge calls the “sausage factory in Springfield.” (see paragraph 34.) Schmidt’s special concurrence gives some historical context behind the Certificate of Need for hospitals and basically rips the whole process. Schmidt says, “This legislation assures that money keeps pouring in to Illinois politicians not only from those wishing to build new hospitals, but also from incumbent hospitals wishing to avoid any competition. Each side wants their friends on the Board. This, of course, leads each side to “donate” to Illinois governors and senators. This in addition to the history of bribes to Board members.” (see paragraph 48)

I realize it pales in comparison to other things going on in Springfield (not the least being the lack of budget), but thought you might be interested.

Thanks for doing such an amazing job with the blog. It is must-read for anyone who cares about Illinois.



* The opinion’s setup

In closing, we offer a few words on the special concurrence. Justice Schmidt’s offering brings to mind a timeless observation made in 1869 by American lawyer and poet John Godfrey Sax, to wit: “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) An Impeachment Trial, The Chronicle, Mar. 27, 1869, at 4. By taking the public on a tour of the sausage factory in Springfield, Justice Schmidt risks triggering a collective case of indigestion. On the other hand, Justice Schmidt may be this generation’s Upton Sinclair. A little dyspepsia might be a small price to pay for some much needed (and long overdue) transparancy. After all, as Justice Brandeis so aptly put it, “[p]ublicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Louis D. Brandeis, Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It (1914). We can only hope that the light that Justice Schmidt shines on the factory floor in Springfield leads to the production of more sanitary and wholesome sausages in the future. For now, to paraphrase Captain Renault from Casablanca, we will merely note that we are shocked, shocked to find that political considerations are influencing the legislative process in Illinois.


* The hardball concurrence

In essence and in fact, this legislation is nothing more than an additional corruption tax added to the cost of healthcare in Illinois. This legislation is clearly anticonsumer, but propolitician. Ironically, eradicating the Planning Act would fulfill the stated goal of the Planning Act. Yet, as the cost of healthcare continues to rise and Illinois remains the poster-child for political corruption, the General Assembly repeatedly refuses to do so. This legislation assures that money keeps pouring in to Illinois politicians not only from those wishing to build new hospitals, but also from incumbent hospitals wishing to avoid any competition. Each side wants their friends on the Board. This, of course, leads each side to “donate” to Illinois governors and senators. This is in addition to the history of bribes to Board members.

By restricting the output of healthcare services and diminishing incentives to pursue innovation, the Planning Act imposes significant and unnecessary costs on healthcare consumers, i.e., the people of Illinois. As a result of this legislation, Centegra has been forced to jump through years of pointless hoops and incur untold unnecessary costs in order to build its hospital. Guess who ultimately incurs those costs. This is unacceptable. For these reasons, I specially concur in the judgment.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Clem - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:29 am:

    I don’t disagree with anything the justices wrote about the sausage making, and I don’t pretend to know much about the delivery of health care. But it seems something like the health facilities board needs to be in place or no hospitals will remain in poor urban and downstate communities.

  2. - Concerned - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:32 am:

    Justice Schmidt drops mic, walks off-stage.

  3. - Qui Tam - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:45 am:

    ==eradicating the Planning Act would fulfill the stated goal of the Planning Act. ==


    What a difference a district makes. If it were the along to get along 4th District, they’d heaping praise on their political patrons instead of bashing.

  4. - Freezeup - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:53 am:

    I read many opinions out of the 3d

    When it comes to search and seizure cases, Schmidt is a rockstar.

    He is a bright spot in an oft reversed appellate court district.

  5. - Norseman - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:01 pm:

    === But it seems something like the health facilities board needs to be in place or no hospitals will remain in poor urban and downstate communities. ===

    The purpose of CON is to prevent duplication of services, not assurance of services.

    CON is one of the many continuing attempts to curtail the rising cost of healthcare. I understand the theory behind CON, the problem with the theory is that it runs up against the problem of implementation by humans intent on usurping the process for personal or political gains.

  6. - Keyser Soze - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:04 pm:

    Adding to the souffle, consider:

    “…For undemocratic reasons and for motives not of State,

    they arrive at their conclusions - largely

    Being void of self-expression they confide their
    views to none,

    but sometimes in a smoking room, one learns
    why things were done….”

    - Rudyard Kipling

  7. - Micki - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:11 pm:

    Clem - The legislature voted last year to take away the authority for the Board to prevent closures so, there is nothing that they do that would keep hospitals in poor areas.

  8. - walker - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:34 pm:

    Standard practice for industry lobbyists to encourage legislators to vote for unfair advantages for the biggest players in a marketplace — while all the time spouting “conservative” free-market lingo.

  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:35 pm:

    The Health Facilities Board is a joke. They voted to keep Murray Center and JAcksonville Center open and of course Quinn still said he was closing them……it is a waste of tax dollars.

  10. - Clem - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:42 pm:


    Yes, there is nothing to stop them from closing facilities in poor areas, but they do need approval to open new facilities in affluent areas. This has the effect (or at least it should — it’s too early to tell,) of keeping hospitals in underserved locations. You can’t close shop on the South Side and move operations to Orland Park without the Facilities Board giving the okay.

    I think Norseman is correct about how politics perverts the intent of the policy.

  11. - steve schnorf - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:43 pm:

    sure, the unfettered marketplace will take care of any problem /snark

  12. - Any Mouse - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:45 pm:

    Clem- note that the board is being used to reduce the supply of hospitals.

    This is a great example of why we have the worlds highest costs for healthcare.

    See also restrictions on opening a new medical school or using Nurse Practitioners and other mid-level practitioners.

  13. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 1:03 pm:

    Somebody’s going to get dyspepsia from swallowing their Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.

    Seriously, Sax, Brandeis and Capt. Renault, all in the same paragraph?

    It appears the judges were looking for a reason to tee off on the law, bringing it all back to Levine and Rezko.

    The actual allegations of “corruption tax” and “anticonsumer, propolitician” (try hyphens; those aren’t words) aren’t supported by any facts referenced in regards to this specific case.

  14. - Cheswick - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 1:14 pm:

    - Keyser Soze - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:04 pm:

    == Adding to the souffle, consider:

    - Rudyard Kipling ==

    So, they let Rod have a computer in prison, now?

  15. - jim - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 3:17 pm:

    judging from these comments, it seems people have a hard time accepting the obvious.

  16. - Steve - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 3:46 pm:

    Should we have an Illinois board to determine how many coffee houses should exist or should we let consumers decide?

  17. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 4:25 pm:

    word +1

    Another great post-Blago “reform” law that didn’t work.

  18. - MyTwoCents - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 5:40 pm:

    Merits of debating the law aside I fail to see what that part of the opinion has to do with the case that was before them. Maybe they should stick with the legal matters at issue and let the General Assembly debate policy.

  19. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 6:24 pm:

    Schmidt should be good on the search and seizure cases - he was a police officer after all. Holdridge is the real scholar in the third.

  20. - Rasselas - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 7:36 pm:

    Steve, people (most people) don’t die when they don’t have access to coffee houses. Hospitals are in a different category.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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