Blessing Hospital appeals approval of state board permit of Quincy Medical Group small format hospital

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An artist's rendering of the QMG Hospital and QMG Birth Center that were approved April 26 by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. | Photo courtesy of Quincy Medical Group

QUINCY — Blessing Health System is asking for review of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board’s recent decision to approve the Quincy Medical Group small format hospital. 

In a Wednesday morning press release, Blessing officials say they filed the appeal of the certificate of need permit in Sangamon County Court on Tuesday, May 31.  

The Health System’s Board of Trustees says it is obligated to raise legitimate concerns about whether the state board fulfilled its duty of legislatively required regional health care planning in making the QMG decision. Because the legislature determined that protecting access to hospital and medical care for all Illinoisans is a legal obligation of the state, Illinois has health care certificate of need laws and a state board responsible for upholding those laws. 

The trustees believe the state board’s decision will lead to the loss of federal Sole Community Hospital status because of its proximity of the QMG hospital to Blessing. Sole Community Hospitals are designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That status provides support that allows Blessing to deliver equitable and inclusive healthcare for all of the residents of this region by financially subsidizing Medicare, Medicaid and charity care.

Blessing officials say its patient base is 75 percent Medicare/Medicaid and charity care.

Blessing officials say the state board ignored its legally designated mission to ensure sustainable, equitable and inclusive health care for all residents by approving the QMG hospital plan without adequate consideration of the negative affects it would have on the majority of patients who receive and will continue to receive their hospital care from Blessing and other safety net service providers in the region.

The request for a legal review does not include the QMG Birth Center, which also received a permit.

“Blessing Health System has an obligation to its patients, and to all community hospitals in Illinois, to stand up to the threat to rural acute care hospitals that is posed by investor-backed, physician-owned, small-format, low-acuity hospitals,” Maureen Kahn, president/chief executive officer of Blessing Health System, said in a press release. “Blessing must challenge the state board’s disregard for its own mission, rules and regulations. 

“Our board has an obligation as the steward of our community hospital to protect the sustainability of hospital care for all residents by questioning this certificate of need. The community deserves a neutral and unbiased review of this hospital permit for the benefit of every patient. The implications are bigger than just harm to Blessing.”

Carol Brockmiller, CEO of Quincy Medical Group, said in prepared statement that community feedback and support has been “tremendous” and confirmed QMG’s efforts to transform healthcare in the region is sorely wanted and needed.

“We have not reviewed the complaint filed by Blessing Hospital, but will do so as soon as it is available,” Brockmiller wrote. “Having opposed all three projects QMG has taken to the HFSRB, we find Blessing’s continued aggressive opposition to health care competition to be a gross misuse of community resources by a not-for-profit community hospital and totally counterproductive to the incredible growth and forward movement that Quincy is experiencing. We do not believe there is a valid reason for Blessing leadership to continue to oppose QMG’s entry into inpatient services. All Blessing will accomplish with this action is to further delay the transformation of healthcare for the people of our region.

“We are disappointed that Blessing’s leadership continues to focus on thwarting the QMG Hospital rather than accepting competition and looking inward for administrative improvement and inpatient cost reduction. QMG believes in choice and competition and the positive impact both can have on cost, quality and the patient experience. Other hospitals throughout Illinois and the country are embracing their healthcare providers and working on innovation and transformation. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the monopoly hospital in Quincy.

“We don’t see this as a zero-sum game for our region. We don’t believe anyone has to lose for us to move healthcare forward in the tri-states. Choice and competition in healthcare will help lower costs, be good for patients, and be a positive, significant contributor to the economic development of the tri-states.

“We are confident the HFSRB made the right decision in accordance with the law and project review criteria, and we trust the review process will confirm that. QMG plans to deliver on the hospital, as well as the QMG Birth Center, to honor our commitment to patients in the tri-states.”

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