CHICAGO - Four financially challenged hospitals on Chicago’s South Side announced Tuesday they have scrapped plans to merge into a single health care system because Illinois lawmakers failed to set aside funding for the project.
The $1.1 billion plan announced in March called for the merger of South Shore Hospital, Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, Advocate Trinity Hospital and St. Bernard Hospital. The plan included the construction of one new hospital and a network of community health centers. One or more of the hospitals would have been closed in the plan.
In a letter to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, the leaders of the hospitals say they see no way for the project to succeed.
“After carefully evaluating the eleventh-hour shift in the legislation establishing the Hospital Transformation Fund, we have determined that we see no path forward for our project that would transform health care on the South Side and help address disparities in health for the patients we serve,” the letter said.
The hospitals asked the Legislature for $110 million for fiscal year 2021 and a total of $520 million over five years to offset losses as they created the system and built a hospital. The remainder of the money was to come from the hospitals, their parent organizations and donations.
Legislation passed Friday didn’t include the $520 million, which would have come from Medicaid funds. Instead, the legislation created an annual pool of $150 million for hospitals across the state for fiscal years 2021 through 2023. The money won’t be distributed until lawmakers create criteria for providing funds.
Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus expressed concerns about the plan. Democratic Rep. Marcus Evans of Chicago says he didn’t oppose the project, but felt the hospitals didn’t provide enough detail about their plans.