Plan guarantees continued health care, employment in central Illinois

TMHSPRINGFIELD – The six critical access hospitals that serve Macoupin, Montgomery and Christian counties will not experience an interruption in vital federal funds under a bipartisan deal that was reached in Springfield.

The deal, signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner Monday in Chicago, is the framework for modernizing Illinois’ $3.5 billion Medicaid Hospital Assessment Program. The federal government must sign off on the state’s plan. The deadline is June 30.

Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) toured every hospital in Senate District 48 in November and heard grave concerns from administrators about Illinois’ proposed redesign of the assessment program and whether it would be approved and submitted for review in time.

“This program is a vital source of funding for rural hospitals that treat low-income patients and serve people who rely on the Affordable Care Act for insurance,” Manar said. “For lawmakers, failing to meet the deadline was not an option. It would have been detrimental to hospitals all over Illinois.”

The assessment program, which ensures access to health care for Medicaid recipients, is fully funded by Illinois hospitals and the federal government. There is no state cost.

Illinois receives less federal funding per Medicaid beneficiary than any other state and has the lowest Medicaid matching rates in the country, making the assessment program vitally important for critical access hospitals.

Rural hospitals are major employers in their communities and regional economic engines. A loss of significant federal support could result in a corresponding loss of programs and employees.

“I heard the hospitals’ concerns, and I wanted to make sure a deal was reached,” Manar said. “I understand how important it is to have boots on the ground at rural hospitals so that all patients can continue to access quality health care and emergency medical treatment.”

Six hospitals serving Macoupin, Montgomery and Christian counties are critical access: Community Memorial Hospital in Staunton, Hillsboro Area Hospital, Taylorville Memorial Hospital, Pana Community Hospital, Carlinville Area Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield.

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