Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn joined today State Senator Barack Obama, chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, and other senators of the committee at the State Senate Hearing Room to investigate charges of predatory collection practices by hospitals across Illinois.
Quinn, who led the successful charge at the 2003 National Lieutenant Governors' Association conference for a national resolution that brought attention to the issue of hospitals charging uninsured patients more than what is charged to insured patients, received a handful of applause from the audience after his testimony.
“Discriminatory pricing is an economic injustice that affects 1.8 million Illinois consumers who do not have insurance,” said Quinn, adding that the problem disproportionately impacts minorities and immigrants.
The Hospital Accountability Project report, Insult to Injury: Hospital Debt and Aggressive Collections Practices by Advocate Hospital, released October 19 by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), documents how Advocate Health Care of Chicago often takes advantage of uninsured patients – antagonistically pursuing them in court, destroying credit, thrusting them into bankruptcy and forcing them from their homes.
“We can’t have a double standard where uninsured patients are being charged two to three times more than the price charged for insured patients for the exact same health care services,” said Quinn, who called for more stringent standards for not-for-profit hospitals.
“It’s time to put the ‘caring’ back into health care,” Quinn said. “Predatory pricing practices by hospitals are limiting the access to health care for thousands of people in Illinois.”
In August 2001, Quinn walked across Illinois from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan on behalf of the Bernardin Amendment that called for decent health care for everyone.
The Hospital Accountability Project is an SEIU health care research and advocacy initiative working to hold non-profit hospitals accountable to their mission of placing community needs ahead of financial gain. SEIU is the largest health care union in the country, representing more than 750,000 health care workers nationwide and 25,000 in Illinois.