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Closing a hospital now more difficult in Illinois

Closing a hospital now more difficult in Illinois

New law requires permit from review board to close or downsize health facilities

By PETER HANCOCK

Capitol News Illinois
phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD — Hospital corporations in Illinois now have to jump through more administrative hoops before they will be allowed to close or downsize a health care facility.

A new law that took effect this month requires the owners of those facilities to obtain a permit from the state’s Health Facilities and Services Review Board before they can close a hospital, ambulatory surgical treatment center, nursing home or other health care center. It also limits the number of times they can apply to discontinue a category of services to just once every six months.

Those new provisions were included in Senate Bill 1739, which Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law July 15.

The bill was prompted by a controversy in Cook County earlier this year when California-based Pipeline Health announced plans to shut down Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, a hospital that serves a large number of low-income patients.

Pipeline had purchased the 230-bed hospital in January, along with hospitals in Chicago and Oak Park. It initially said it planned to keep Westlake Hospital open, only to reverse that decision within a few weeks.

Under a state law known as the Health Facilities Planning Act, operators of health facilities are required to obtain a permit from the review board before they can build a new facility or modify an existing one by demonstrating there is a need for such a facility. But until passage of the new law, they could apply for an exemption from the permitting process in order to close or downsize a facility.

Pipeline applied for such an exemption in February, and the review board approved that exemption April 30 on a 7-0 vote.

During that period, the village of Melrose Park and Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx filed suit seeking to overturn the board’s decision, and in May a Cook County judge issued an order temporarily blocking the closure while the court reviews the case.

The new law took effect as soon as Pritzker signed it, but state officials were not immediately able to say whether it would affect the proposed Westlake closure.

 

 

© Copyright 2019 Capitol News Illinois

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Peter Hancock

Peter HancockPeter Hancock

Peter was one of the founding reporters with Capitol News Illinois. A native of the Kansas City area, he has degrees in political science and education from the University of Kansas.

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