Illinois Healthcare News| May 20, 2020
Pritzker Administration Providing $75 Million to Hospitals to Continue Fight Against COVID-19
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services announced that the state’s hospitals have begun receiving $75 million in stability payments to assist during the COVID-19 crisis. The money will help Illinois hospitals to continue providing necessary COVID-19 services in the next few months.
“We understand that hospitals on the front lines of COVID-19 need immediate support,” said Theresa Eagleson, Health and Family Services director. “We’re very thankful to the medical professionals who are serving the state during the public health crisis. We remain committed to doing everything we can to help them.”
The stability payments are issued in installments until July 1, 2020. Illinois hospitals began receiving the first payments in late April. The payments are distributed through the state’s Medicaid Managed Care Organization partners.
An Unprecedented Challenge
The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed unprecedented challenges to healthcare providers across the country. While some hospitals have experienced a deluge of infected patients, others have experienced a shortfall of income due to delayed elective procedures. Likewise, people with chronic conditions have care outside of the hospitals, to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.
A Bipartisan Effort
“The added support to confront the COVID-19 crisis and the aftermath is crucial to the communities that are at the front lines of this fight,” said Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, Senate Majority Leader and Joint Caucus Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. “Hospitals are not only vital for healthcare but also as a source of economic opportunity and jobs. It’s necessary to continue providing the resources hospitals need for their staff, patients, and the surrounding communities.”
To provide even more support, a bipartisan group created to extend the Hospital Assessment Program is in agreement with a proposal to bring almost an additional $250 million annually to hospitals around the state. This will also maximize federal participation in Medicaid, moving to a more active payment system that responds to the needs of members on where to seek care.
“Hospitals perform a key role in every community throughout Illinois,” said Senator Heather Steans. “The value of hospitals has never been higher. In response, our support should be more dynamic, especially for hospitals relying on state Medicaid funding. I’m happy that we came together in a bipartisan way to accomplish this important goal.”
The Healthcare and Family Services Department submitted the proposal to the federal government and is advocating for immediate approval. This will solidify a positive future for hospitals across Illinois.
“With this proposal, we can make sure that more Medicaid money will come into the state, providing support to those most in need,” said Senator Dave Syverson, Senate Republican Leader. “As the state continues to fight COVID-19, this robust hospital assessment program provides much-needed resources to those who have been essential to everyone and who will continue essential care and protection in the future.”
Overall, $3.8 billion would be distributed to Illinois hospitals through the renewed assessment program. Moreover, $150 million dollars in additional funding would be available to hospitals for advanced future healthcare projects subject to guidelines that are under development.
“It has never been more important for us to come together and support hospitals throughout the state,” commented Representative Tom Demmer, Deputy Republican Leader. “With this proposal, we’re committing resources to the medical professionals who work every day to protect us and our communities.”
“For communities of color that have often faced healthcare challenges and are now in this unprecedented crisis, the hospital assessment program agreement offers a range of vital resources and support,” observed Representative Elizabeth Hernandez, co-chair, Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus. “Those who are risking their lives every day deserve nothing less than our unwavering support.”
Once authorized by the General Assembly and once approved by the federal government, the new program would run from July 1, 2020, until the end of 2022.
“As someone who has dedicated my life’s work supporting quality healthcare as well as hospitals, I believe it’s vital that we all come together during this unprecedented time of emergency, bringing more resources to the courageous men and women who protect our communities,” said Representative Camille Lilly. “This proposal plays a significant role in accomplishing that mission.”
For More Information
Health and Family Services has also submitted a number of federal Medicaid waivers, seeking new flexibility for both patients and providers. The department is still waiting for federal guidance on a few of the requests. If you need more information about the new flexibility, including new expanded guidance on telehealth options, check out the Health and Family Services website at https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/Pages/coronavirus.aspx