Threat to Medicaid
The Trump administration announced at the end of January that it would allow states to change Medicaid funding to block grants, a plan that the Protect Our Care Illinois (PoCIL) coalition opposes because it would amount to a cut in Medicaid funding. If enacted in Illinois, the plan would decrease access to healthcare for people living in poverty as well as those with chronic conditions, such as opioid addition and mental illness. A switch to Medicaid block grant funding would also dramatically cut federal funding and shift costs to the states. Medicaid covers 1 in 4 Illinoisans, and nearly one-third of Illinois’ Medicaid Expansion population is living with a mental health or substance use condition.
Targeting the High Cost of Drugs Costs
Illinois Senate Bill 667, which was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker on January 24, is an important first step on the path to addressing the skyrocketing prices of lifesaving medicines like insulin. The cost of popular types of insulin has tripled over the last decade, increasing the price of some by as much as 800%. SB667 will cap those costs at $100 for a 30-day supply and require further study of prescription drug costs by the state Department of Insurance.
South Side Hospital Merger
Four financially vulnerable South Side hospitals announced on January 23 they were planning to merge into a single healthcare system with a state-of-the-art hospital and a network of 3 to 6 large stand-alone clinics. According to the preliminary plan, Advocate Trinity Hospital, 2320 E. 93rd St., Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., South Shore Hospital, 8012 S. Crandon Ave., and St. Bernard Hospital, 326 W. 64th St. would replace existing aging facilities and eliminate a collective loss of $79 million in FY 2019 while improving preventive, urgent and primary care for area residents.
According to Block Club Chicago's Mauricio Peña, final agreement on the merger is not expected until mid-2020. Meanwhile, plan proponents will be holding community input sessions, beginning in February. Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the proposed merger “an innovative proposal to ensure Chicago’s south side residents have access to quality and accessible healthcare services” and applauded “the hospitals’ commitment to hearing directly from neighborhood leaders and area residents about local needs. The City also looks forward to close collaboration with the new entity to ensure that promoting health equity and economic growth in the region remain core to any transformation plans.”