Senator Gillespie

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ann Gillespie advanced legislation from the Illinois Senate on Wednesday that would allow Illinois hospitals to operate under a new care model and expand access to vital health services for rural Illinoisans.

“Health care is a right we must protect and expand, especially in areas facing unique challenges in access to care,” said Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights). “Rural hospitals will soon see additional help in offering the services their patients rely on, preserving access to care in all corners of the state.”

House Bill 4846 makes several changes to Illinois’ health care laws, most notably allowing qualifying Illinois hospitals to operate under a new, federal care delivery model as “rural emergency hospitals”. REH is a new Medicare provider designation intended to improve access to outpatient services and reduce health disparities in areas unable to operate a full-service hospital. Under the REH designation, rural hospitals will receive a higher Medicare reimbursement rate for the services they provide, reducing financial constraints on the hospital.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in seven rural Americans face restricted access to health care. Since 2005, nearly 100 rural hospitals across the nation have closed their doors and more than 80 have reduced services to remain open.

House Bill 4846 passed the Illinois Senate with bipartisan support and awaits further consideration in the Illinois House.