CHICAGO – November 20, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that allows the state to tap significant federal dollars and speed payments to thousands of Illinois-based hospitals. The new law will improve the financial health of the state’s hospitals, which treat thousands of patients and are major employers.
“Illinois’ Medicaid providers serve Illinois’ most vulnerable residents,” said Governor Quinn. “This bill will help speed payments and give much-needed financial relief to these important health care providers.”
House Bill 542 creates a special program that uses enhanced federal match available from the Hospital Assessment Program to make $120 million in one-time federal assistance payments to hospitals that treat high volumes of Medicaid patients and rural access hospitals. The law also helps the state use increased federal funding to pay Medicaid bills owed to other providers, such as pharmacists.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Sparta) and Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston). Governor Quinn signed House Bill 542 into law during a signing ceremony at Children’s Memorial Hospital and was joined by Barry S. Maram, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
“Hospitals and other health care providers are key economic engines in communities all over the state, with hospitals employing nearly a quarter of a million Illinoisans and supporting many other businesses, including suppliers and vendors,” said Sen. Schoenberg. “At a time when unemployment continues to climb, this legislation will also create an immediate economic stimulus to preserve jobs and provide the residents of our state continued access to quality health care.”
Earlier this week, Governor Quinn signed two bills into law that created the Healthcare Provider Relief Fund, which is dedicated to reducing backlogged Medicaid bills. The fund allows the State to continue paying providers of medical services on a timely basis and maximize the enhanced federal matching dollars currently available though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This federal match provided through ARRA is only available through December 2010.
“Like many people and businesses in Illinois, medical providers are struggling during this national economic recession,” said Director Maram. “I thank Governor Quinn for his leadership in helping make sure that these providers continue to receive their payments in a timely manner.”