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New Illinois Hospital Assessment Plan Means Healthcare Stability For Millions

via Google Street
South Shore Hospital on Chicago's south side, deemed one of Illinois' "safety-net hospitals" for Medicaid patients. Advocates warned it and other hospitals like it were on the verge of closure without a new plan to distributed Medicaid dollars.

Illinois hospitals will soon receive money to treat millions of people who are covered through Medicaid. The federal government has approved state's latest hospital assessment program, which gives money to hospitals for treating its poorest individuals.

Whenever one of the three million people on Illinois Medicaid go to a hospital, they often need expensive services. Since they can't pay on their own, the hospital pays the cost up front and the government reimburses them later. But that arrangement was set to expire without a new deal in place. That could have impacted healthcare for those people as some hospitals had threatened to close.

State lawmakers managed to avoid that by approving a new plan, and the federal government recently signed off on it.

Randy Schorfheide is with a hospital group in southern Illinois. He says having Medicaid money in place means those people will have the healthcare they need.

“This will only strengthen our ability to serve them, those individuals who are vulnerable and marginalized, each and every day.”

The new funding formula will help what are called safety net hospitals, in both urban and rural areas. Schorfheide says the money will also help pay for obesity treatments and a growing number of patient visits at the hospitals.

Others, like the Service Employees International Union, say some hospitals will still lose money under the new plan, and that it doesn’t do enough to address gaps in Medicaid-funded healthcare.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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