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Analysis

New Illinois Law Makes Hospital Closures More Difficult

By Steven Porter  
   August 01, 2019

The new rules add administrative hurdles to the process by which hospital owners can close facilities or reduce services.

A law that took effect in Illinois this month makes it more challenging to shutter hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the state.

The law, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed July 15, requires that owners secure a permit from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board before they can close a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, nursing home, or other healthcare facility. It also limits how often owners can apply to discontinue a service line to no more than once every six months.

The measure was born out of a controversy involving Los Angeles–based Pipeline Health's purchase of Westlake Hospital, a 230-bed facility in the Chicago suburb Melrose Park, as Peter Hancock reported for Capitol News Illinois.

When it bought the hospital, along with two others, from Tenet Healthcare Corp. in January, Pipeline Health indicated plans to keep the hospital open, saying it has "a proven model for saving and sustaining smaller hospitals that are cornerstones of the communities" in which the company operates. But the company reversed course within a few weeks and announced plans to close Westlake Hospital, which serves a sizable low-income population, as Hancock reported.

It's unclear whether the new law, which took effect immediately, will affect Pipeline's planned closure of Westlake Hospital.

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Owners must get a permit from a state-run review board before they can close a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, nursing home, or other healthcare center.

Policymakers passed the measure after a California-based company bought three Chicago-area hospitals then quickly announced plans to close one of them.


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