Governor Bruce Rauner on Monday signed legislation that ensures Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville and other safety net hospitals will continue to receive payments for treating poor patients.
Rauner signed a legislation that renews the state’s hospital assessment program, which was set to expire in June. The redesigned program the state plans to put in place would create a more equitable reimbursement process and ensures the state will continue to receive $3.5 billion in federal Medicaid dollars.
The federal government will need to sign off on the new terms of the program before it can take effect.
“Our teams worked hard to make sure our most vulnerable citizens can continue to receive quality medical services and to keep hospitals in underserved communities,” Rauner said. “I’d like to thank all the legislators, state officials and stakeholders who worked to restructure the program. Their unwavering dedication will help keep the Medicaid program sustainable for the future.”
The governor’s office added the new process will ensure more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
Under the previous model that expires June 30, the state used old data sets, sometimes based on care that was provided as far back as 2005, to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid services, the governor’s office said.
The new model will use updated data and also ensure that more of the reimbursements are based on actual services hospitals provide. It also dedicates more than $260 million to help hospitals transform their operations to better serve their communities, such as offering more urgent and outpatient care.
Hospitals across the state pay an “assessment,” or tax, based on their size, and this money is matched by the federal government. Then the money is redistributed to hospitals based on the number of Medicaid patients they serve.
In 2016, hospitals paid $381.3 million in assessments for the program and the federal government matched that amount for a total of $762.6 million for the program, according to the Association of Safety-Net Community Hospitals, which has 23 members in Illinois.
Safety-net hospitals, which treat primarily low-income patients on Medicaid rely on the assessments to keep their doors open.
Touchette Regional Hospital at 5900 Bond Ave. in Centreville is the only safety-net hospital in the metro-east.
Larry McCulley, CEO of Touchette Regional, said the hospital appreciates the efforts of the legislators, the Illinois Hospital Association, safety net hospitals, and the Department of Health and Family Services in designing the new program.
"This was a critical outcome that helps to ensure to our team, our patients, and community that our role in the regional delivery system will continue to move forward to support the needs of our area, particularly around behavioral health,” McCulley said.