“In the months since Rod Blagojevich has been impeached and removed from office, state leaders have thrown open the doors and windows, and are taking a hard look at the way government works. A lot of housecleaning has been done already and more is needed,” Senator Brady said. “For that reason – and for the same reason that the Executive Director resigned from the Teachers Retirement System last month – we think it is necessary to remove the leaders and the members of the Health Facilities Planning Board. We need to distance ourselves from that era of corruption and controversy.”
Four years ago, the General Assembly purged every board member from the Health Facilities Planning Board, regardless of their ties to the corrupting influences of convicted insider Tony Rezko and others, but the Board’s executive leadership remained in place.
“There is still too much status quo at the Board for us to say we have finished our job. This Board has been at the center of corrupt influence peddling by those convicted of seeking to enrich themselves at the public expense,” said Senator Brady, a member of a Task Force that recently recommended changes in the Board’s structure and operations. “I am not suggesting any wrongdoing by the Board’s staff or current members, but we must be ever vigilant and continue to look at measures to restore the public’s confidence in the Board’s actions and activities. The citizens of Illinois need and deserve reasonable access to quality healthcare facilities in their communities.”
Although Senator Brady agreed with many of the recommendations of the Task Force, he submitted a minority report to the findings, in part because he believed the panel’s proposed changes did not adequately address issues such as a need for greater independence of the Board, which regulates medical services and construction of medical facilities throughout Illinois.
The Task Force majority recommended replacing the current Board with a new Health Facilities and Services Review Board to oversee the certificate-of-need (CON) process for approving construction of new and replacement medical facilities, purchase of medical equipment and long-term care facilities.
“Placing the CON Board under the umbrella of the Executive Branch lends itself to a continued pattern of corruption that has plagued the Health Facilities Planning Board in recent years,” Senator Brady wrote in the minority report. “If the CON Board is dependent on an executive agency for its survival, then the threat of ‘pay-to-play’ scandals is always present. To neutralize that threat, an independent CON Board should be created.”