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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 09:11 AM
Original message
Hospital makes bold move to assure health care access for poor.*
Sarah Bush Lincoln Adopts 'Health Care Justice' Guidelines
Douglas County Republican
April 17, 2004

MATTOON--- In a first-of-its-kind program in Illinois, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Care System has voluntarily implemented new income guidelines for patients seeking health care. The guidelines mirror those set forth in the 'Illinois Health Care Justice Act', sponsored by State Sen. Barack Obama, which recently passed the Illinois House and is currently being considered by the State Senate.

Under the new guidelines, any individual or family whose adjusted gross income does not exceed 150-percent of the federal government's poverty guidlines will be eligible for free medical care at Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital and its outpatient satellite clinics, and those
whose adjusted gross income does not exceed 250-percent of the federal government's poverty guidlines will be eligible for reduced-cost care based on a sliding income scale.

Sarah Bush CEO Gene LeBlond said that the hospital has never denied medical care to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay, but felt that the time had come for the health-care system to 'step out front' and address the issue of access to health care by poor and lower-income families and individuals in central Illinois. "We have always attempted to work with our patients to provide them with maximum access to quality health care, regardless of their ability to pay. As an institution that receives Hill-Burton (federal) funds, we have a legal obligation to do so. We feel that the time has arrived for us to go further than the law requires, and set an example for other health-care providers in this state by acting in a socially-responsible manner. The fact is that many people in this area are not receiving health care at all until it becomes an emergency situation, and this is placing a strain upon upon the resources of health-care providers statewide, including our system; it makes far more financial sense for us to provide routine, preventitive health care to low-income people now than it does to provide emergency care to them later, when the costs of doing so are far, far greater."

In a statement released late Friday, Sen. Obama applauded Sarah Bush Lincoln's decision. "If every health-care provider in this state would behave in as socially-responsible manner as has Sarah Bush, my legislation might not be neccessary. I plan to work with the hospital to help them aquire the maximum amount of federal and state funding for this new program, as well as for existing ones. Bold moves such as this one show that we can solve the health-care crisis not just in Illinois, but nationwide as well. It is not simply a matter of dollars, but of the will to do so. Sarah Bush has shown other providers how they can become part of the solution to this growing problem, and I offer them a sincere 'Well done' for their effort."

The new guidlines will take effect immediately, a spokesman for Sarah Bush Lincoln Health care Systems said."

Pretty cool, huh? :D




*(Sorry for no link, but the local paper is not online)
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slinkerwink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
1. that's great news----we need more of those today!
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 09:25 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. I agree!
It gives me hope that it's beginning to dawn on health-care providers that access to routine, preventitive health-care is also in their best interest, too. :)
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 09:25 AM
Response to Original message
2. It's a great idea, BUT
how will they handle things when people start moving there in droves? Generous plans like these are often swamped because they either do not or cannot figure out a way to control enrollment..

It would be wonderful if every community had a place like that.. I wish them well :)
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 09:27 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. I don't think there will be a *massive* increase in patients.
The region just doesn't offer the other 'incentives' neccessary to encourage people to move here in large numbers. I also wish them well, and join with Sen. Obama in saying 'Well done!'. :)
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davsand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
5. Looks like we shook up Illinois hospitals.
The Illinois Dept of Revenue upheld our findings on Provena hospital here in Chamapign Urbana, and we denied them property tax exemptions. IN PART, this was because of the charity care program they claimed to have but sporadically followed. They were using extreme collections practices and were suing low income people who SHOULD have been given charity care and weren't.

Lucette Lagnado from the Wall Street Journal has done a couple articles on it, the first one hit the front page of the WSJ late in October, the last one was in Feb when the IDOR decision hit.

http://bernie.house.gov/documents/articles/200310311554...

http://ahp.org/other/021904-WSJ-article.htm

I'd say that the articles about the collections practices in the Wall Street Journal may have helped with the battle, but frankly, Illinois property tax code is quite specific on what hospitals should be doing--and many are not. Further, Sen Obama and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn have been huge contributors in working to make it legislatively clear what Illinois expects from our health care providers. I have hopes that AG Lisa Madigan's office will continue this even further.

http://www.healthbusinessandpolicy.com/TAXChallenge.htm

Above is a link to a feature on the subject. I gave an interview to Jim Unland, the Editor of the Health Business Policy Journal (yes, I am on that page and you can see my picture and hear my voice.) He's an amazing guy--I felt like maybe he'd get the story right and see ALL the reasons why we ruled the way we did. He's taken the opportunity to educate hospitals and administrators on what they should be doing and how to better serve local communities.

I can't tell you how much it helps me to see that what we did IS having an impact in the state, and potentially, nationwide. This represents a year of my work and even tho that part is done, my involvement continues.

We CAN change this system even with the GOP controlled federal government. EVERYBODY needs to realize this and keep fighting.


Laura
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Kanary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 11:51 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Thanks, Laura!
The neocons have given us too many fronts to fight on at once, but it's people like you who will make headway.

You have saved some lives, and certainly prevented some misery with your actions.

Now, on to Universal health care!

Kanary
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. If Provena is bad, Carle is even worse.
Carle has been absolutely relentless AND vicious in its collection practices, bad enough that it earned them a page one spot in the Wall street Journal, IIRC.
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
8. I think the 'carrot and stick' approach may work well
Edited on Sun Apr-18-04 01:16 PM by Padraig18
Sarah Bush Lincoln is a good hospital, and I've dealt with them before. I still believe that the majority of people in the health-care system actually CARE about people, but the corporate structure of most providers has over-ridden the desires of the people actually involved in providing care.

Perhaps the pressure from Sen. Obama's bill finally motivated SBLHC to adopt this new program (the stick), but the senator's response (he is going to help them secure maximum available funds-- the 'carrot') may also motivate others to start doing similar things.

We can always hope. :)
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