Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Clinic have proposed to merge in order to come into compliance with new federal laws and regulations. Under the proposed merger, Carle Clinic would actually become a part of the non-profit Carle Foundation, and would operate as a non-profit physician clinic, and would honor the financial assistance policies of the non-profit Carle Foundation Hospital!
This “merger” (really an acquisition of the Clinic by the Foundation), could be the single best thing to happen in this community to make health care accessible to the great number of people who have had problems with access to primary and specialty care – low-income people, people with Medicaid insurance, and people with outstanding medical debt (including those who have been “no serviced” by Carle Clinic).
The change in ownership structure must be approved by the IL Health Facilities Planning Board, through the Certificate of Need (CON) process. As part of that process, public hearings can be held in order to hear from the affected communities about whether or not they support the proposed change and why.
As a community, we have a tremendous opportunity through this CON process to voice our support for this proposed merger. CCHCC is urging strong community support for the proposed merger, while also requesting formal assurances on particular issues of concern.
1. CCHCC’S POSITION ON THE MERGER — OUR SUPPORT, AND OUR REQUEST FOR FORMAL ASSURANCES ON KEY ISSUES
Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Clinic have proposed to merge in order to come into compliance with new federal laws and regulations. Under the proposed merger, Carle Clinic would actually become a part of the non-profit Carle Foundation, and would operate as a non-profit physician clinic, AND would honor the financial assistance policies of the non-profit Carle Foundation Hospital!
***CCHCC is very supportive of this merger, but we also want to seek formal assurances from Carle on some outstanding issues.***
We believe this merger could be the single best thing to happen for this community in terms of access to care. Having Carle Clinic become a non-profit provider that abides by Carle Hospital’s financial assistance policies (as proposed in Carle’s application to the State) will result in tremendous access for thousands of community members who are currently locked out of care as a result of the for-profit Carle Clinic’s policies which restrict or deny care to low-income folks, including people with insurance but who have medical debt.
Here are the concerns that we have, for which we will be seeking formal assurances from Carle, and which we urge the community to support:
1. Administration/new management, guiding policies — we understand that the newly merged entity will include staff from both the non-profit and the for-profit entities. We want formal assurances that it will be the non-profit’s policies that guide payment practices (such as minimum payment requirements), debt collection practices, processing of financial assistance applications, etc. Obviously, we view the Clinic’s past and current practices in these areas as extremely harmful and insensitive to the needs of the community and we do not want those policies and attitude to govern the new entity.
2. No-serviced patients — we want all financial “no-service” bans to be lifted immediately, and the patients to be reassessed for financial assistance and payment plans, and service restored. If applicable, new payment agreements should be offered and worked out.
3. All forms of health insurance accepted at the hospital should be accepted at the Clinic (for example, Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is currently only accepted at the Hospital and not the Clinic).
4. Commitment to ongoing community dialogue – we want a commitment that the meetings with Carle Hospital for our Medical Debt Committee will continue on an ongoing basis. These meetings have been very productive and useful and we are very proud of the work that we and Carle Hospital have done together to improve the hospital’s financial assistance program.
5. Community Benefits — we want to work with Carle and the community to develop a written community benefits agreement to address issues beyond the financial assistance program.
6. Payment in lieu of property taxes — we want to see Carle enter into an agreement with the various taxing districts whereby Carle agrees to continue making payments (at least at the current rate) for the properties that would otherwise be taken off the tax rolls when the Clinic becomes non-profit. This should be a multi-year agreement (10+ years) that can be renegotiated to be continued as needed.
7. Health Alliance — although Health Alliance will be a for-profit subsidiary, it will still be ultimately under the governance of the non-profit Carle Foundation, and therefore, we believe that Health Alliance should strive to serve the mission (and at least not contradict the mission) of Carle Foundation. In particular, we would like to see Carle Foundation direct Health Alliance to develop and offer affordable health plans to small employers and individuals, to encourage those employers and individuals to continue to carry health insurance, rather than dropping it because of inability to afford the insurance.
2. INFORMATION ABOUT THE HEARING AND HOW YOU CAN SUBMIT TESTIMONY TO THE STATE AT THE HEARING, OR AFTER THE HEARING
As a community, we have a tremendous opportunity through this CON process to voice our support for this proposed merger.
WHAT: CON hearing on Carle merger
WHEN: Wednesday, November 4, 2009
TIME: 10 a.m.
WHERE: City of Urbana Building, Council Chambers (400 S. Vine Street,Urbana, IL 61801)
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE HEARING:
Please arrive a little bit early. You will be asked to sign in, and when you sign in, you will be asked whether you intend to speak. You can provide written testimony without speaking (just turn in your testimony – 2 copies on 8″ x 11″ paper, printed or typed). If you intend to speak, it will be best if you come prepared with a written statement, to be turned in (2 copies, as above). We do not know how much time each person will have to speak. It may be very brief, depending on how many people there are who want to speak. So, be prepared to make a very brief, to the point statement — perhaps 2 minutes. Your written statement can be longer.