We believe Wednesday Journal’s Jan. 25 “Inside Report” unfairly labeled hospitals as “stingy” and highlighted RUSH Oak Park Hospital in particular. What the Sun-Times story and Lisa Madigan’s proposal fail to do is tell the full story about what hospitals truly give back to their communities.
For example, RUSH Oak Park Hospital has provided charity care for many years, but the hospital’s policy since 2004 has been more generous than Ms. Madigan’s current proposal. This board-approved policy makes it possible for patients at 300 percent of the federal poverty level to benefit from charity care, while the Illinois attorney general’s proposal tops out at 250 percent of the poverty level.
RUSH Oak Park Hospital’s mission, vision and values include the value of stewardship, defined as using “human, financial and natural resources entrusted to us for the common good, with special concern for those who are poor.” We live that mission through our Charity Care Program policy: “It is the policy of RUSH Oak Park Hospital in carrying out its mission to recognize those individuals for whom payment for services represents a hardship.”
Since 2004, we have seen a steady increase in the amount of 100 percent charity (free) care we have provided, as well as partial charity care according to, once again, a sliding scale more generous than that proposed by the attorney general.
We publish and make available throughout the hospital a comprehensive booklet on our patient financial services, which includes patient rights, the many resources available to patients, and the charity care and hospital assistance options that RUSH Oak Park offers to those who need them. We have financial counselors who make every effort to help patients deal with the complicated world of medical billing.
When the costs to provide quality care are on the rise, Medicaid reimbursements are on the decline, and nearly 2 million people in Illinois are without insurance, hospitals are between a rock and a hard place. Take a closer look at what hospitals are giving away in care every day, and you will see that the current standards for charity care set by most non-profit institutions are not the problem.
President, CEO, RUSH Oak Park Hospital