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Column: Imposing added burdens
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Column: Imposing added burdens

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Illinois hospitals and providers continue to face unprecedented challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our health care heroes work tirelessly and courageously to provide high quality and compassionate care to Illinoisans. Investments in specialized supplies, equipment and other costs of responding to the pandemic have had a significant financial impact on hospitals.

A recent piece of legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly would add to that financial burden at a time when health care providers and facilities remain on the front lines in the fight against a deadly pandemic.

Illinois House Bill (HB) 3360 seeks to change certain rules on mortgage foreclosures and abandoned property. A last-minute amendment – unrelated to the original bill – imposes a "pre-judgment" interest rate on certain court cases, including all medical malpractice cases. The interest rate – which is higher than current market rates – would begin accruing before a lawsuit is even filed, let alone decided by the court.

The legislation benefits trial attorneys at the expense of health care providers who are doing everything possible to keep Illinoisans safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill encourages the expansion of lawsuits and puts pressure on hospitals to settle lawsuits or face crushing financial consequences.

If health systems are forced to spend more on defending lawsuits and maintaining malpractice insurance, prices will go up for patients and more providers may be forced to leave the state and hospitals to close their doors. The added financial burden could also jeopardize efforts to address health disparities and inequities and further limit our ability to maximize scarce resources and expand access to care.

Our hospitals and the communities we serve have experienced incredible difficulties during the ongoing public health crisis. HB 3360 would impose added burdens in an already challenging environment, potentially putting hospitals, providers and patients at risk. We urge Governor J.B. Pritzker to act now to veto HB 3360 in full and protect these most valuable resources.

With a combined community benefit of over $30.5 million annually, UnityPoint Health – Quad Cities is proud to serve Illinoisans through our hospitals in Moline and Rock Island, the Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health, our medical clinics and home care services. Our nearly 4,400 frontline health care workers and team members provide high quality care to over 180,000 patients each year.

Genesis Health System is dedicated to providing compassionate, quality health care to all those in need in our communities. Our 5,000 employees provide care for 830,000 visits and stays at our hospitals, clinics, and home health care services, and we contribute $35 million in community benefit.

Please stand with our health care heroes. Call on our governor to veto this bill and support the hospitals and providers who remain ready to care for Illinoisans 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Doug Cropper is president and chief executive officer, Genesis Health System. Bob Erickson is president and chief executive officer, UnityPoint Health – Quad Cities.

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