Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Bobby Rush (1st District of Illinois)
CHICAGO — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) made the following statement following the conclusion of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board meeting:
“Mercy Hospital and Medical Center has served residents of the South Side for 170 years. They are not alone in struggling to keep their doors open, especially as our hospitals grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the last few months, I have heard from safety net hospitals, both in and around my district, that are being devastated by the increased costs and declining revenues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, the safety net hospitals serving my constituents, including Advocate Trinity Hospital, South Shore Hospital, St. Bernard Hospital, and, of course, Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, operated at a loss in 2018 due to few inpatient cases and decreases in reimbursement for Medicaid patients and the uninsured. We cannot afford for our healthcare facilities to lack the resources they need especially during the pandemic.
“It is incumbent on us to ensure that everyone has access to the medical care they need. We must work together to reimagine healthcare delivery on the South Side. This will take dedicated funding from both the State and Federal Government, as well as creative solutions from hospitals, providers, and community groups.
“I remain committed to working with my colleagues in the U.S. Congress and with the incoming Biden Administration to prioritize federal funding, but we must use all the resources at our disposal. Now is the time for decisive action.
“I commend the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board for decisively voting against allowing Mercy Hospital & Medical Center to proceed with its plans to close. While it is rare for the Review Board to deny a hospital’s request to close, to do otherwise — particularly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — would have been disastrous. I believe that the Review Board was swayed by the outpouring of community opposition from citizens, including the testimony of patients and medical staff from around the city, as well as the leadership of Governor Pritzker in opposing this closure. We must now work on a solution that ensures long-term access to health care for patients and the financial stability of hospitals on the South Side.”
Rep. Rush has been a leading voice advocating for keeping Mercy Hospital & Medical Center from closing. In March 2020, he wrote to Governor JB Pritzker urging the state to promptly provide state funding for safety net hospitals, including Mercy Hospital. In August 2020, Rep. Rush spoke with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to urge Congress to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to provide additional funding from the Provider Relief Fund to safety net hospitals given the increased costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.