The creation of the Senate Republican Health Facilities Planning
Board Task Force was announced at a press conference Thursday at the
James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Participating were state Sen.
Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; state Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry; state
Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon; and Senate Republican Leader Frank
"The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board has had a
tumultuous couple [of] years, and it appeared that the current
administration was taking some steps to reform the system. However,
other than replacing the members of the planning board, it appears
that nothing else has changed," said Brady. "The Senate Republicans
are convening this task force to examine ways to remove politics
from the system and establish a process based on merit, and not on
Watson added that Gov. Blagojevich has augmented perceived
corruption on the board with political appointees who are now
falling under federal investigation for their roles on the planning
board. "Recent reports revealing ties between Governor Blagojevich
and political appointees on the board -- ties that are far more
extensive than once suggested -- really strengthen the need for some
kind of oversight."
Recent media reports have revealed several ties between planning
board members and Tony Rezko, a political crony of the governor.
According to published reports, some of the members appointed to the
board not only contributed large sums to Blagojevich's campaign, but
also served as shareholders in some of Rezko's companies.
The board was revamped in 2004 after it came under federal
scrutiny for its approval of a $49 million hospital in Crystal Lake.
Althoff, who represents the Crystal Lake area, said: "The current
atmosphere of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board is
politically charged and has become increasingly litigious. While the
board's membership has changed, nothing has been done to improve or
evaluate the Certificate of Need process, by which hospitals and
health care facilities obtain state approval for new buildings,
expansions and other large capital expenditures."
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"This board's decisions affect hundreds of millions of dollars in
capital investments," commented Righter. "But more importantly, its
decisions affect patient lives and access to health care. We all
must hold these issues paramount, and for that reason this system
needs to be beyond reproach."
A study commissioned by the Health Facilities Planning Board and
completed by Governor's State University in February of 2005 also
labeled Illinois as a state that needs to decide on the future
direction, either toward deregulation or toward improving the
Certificate of Need process.
The study notes that a review of current legislative activities
reveals three broad clusters of states: one group looking to
deregulate the process; a second group focusing on improving and
streamlining the process; and the third group, including Illinois,
undecided on whether to move toward deregulation or toward improving
the current process.
A July 2004 report by the Department of Justice also stated,
"States with Certificate of Need programs should consider whether
these programs best serve their citizens' health care needs."
"There has been no meaningful debate on the Certificate of Need
process," said Brady, who noted that the sunset date for the process
was extended until April 2007. "Now is the time to have hearings so
some decisions can be made during the next legislative session. We
need to ensure this process is void of political influence and
effectively achieves its goals of cost containment and access to
The task force will be chaired by Brady and will have at least
four members, including Althoff, Righter and Sen. Brad Burzynski,
[News release from
Editor's note: It was the
decision of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board that
allowed the closure of the Lincoln Developmental Center in 2002.
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