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Quentin Young Posted in CNBC Article on Ilinois Authority Over Hospital Closures

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)
August 17, 2011

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Illinois has rare authority over hospital closures

The Associated Press
| 15 Aug 2011 | 01:15 PM ET

CHICAGO - Cook County officials, facing a multimillion-dollar budget deficit, are begging to close a hospital that serves the poor in Chicago's southern suburbs. But no hospitals can shut down in Illinois until a nine-member state board gives the green light.

The panel — the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board — wields a rare authority over hospital closures, one that doesn't exist in most states. The board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Cook County's proposal to shut down Oak Forest Hospital and turn it into an outpatient center. It rejected a similar request in May.

Emotions surrounding the decision have run high; the board initially rejected Cook County's closure plan after patients and union workers loudly protested that it would hurt health care in the already underserved area. But largely overlooked in the debate is how the board's power is a rarity in government regulation.

Only a handful of states — among them, Connecticut and New Jersey — require hospitals to obtain "certificate of need" approval before shutting down. In Tennessee, only hospitals designated critical in rural areas must get state approval to close.

"It is unusual for a state law to require a CON for closures of hospital services," Duke University law professor emeritus Clark Havighurst said. "It would seem in these tough times that municipalities like Cook County ought to be free to make spending choices without state regulators' interference."

But a board member of the American Health Planning Association, Pennsylvania-based consultant John Steen, said there's value in openiopening a hospital closure decision to public scrutiny, which happens during the CON process.

Read the full article to see what Quentin has to say about this process...