“We must ensure there is a fair process that operates to the benefit of the entire state. Even with the reforms affecting the Board that will be considered by the General Assembly this spring, I believe we must demand even higher standards to safeguard the best interests of the citizens of Illinois who need and deserve reasonable access to quality healthcare facilities in their communities,” said Senator Brady, a member of a Task Force that recently recommended changes in the Board’s structure and operations.
Senator Brady noted the General Assembly four years ago 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 Governor’s Administration allowed the Board’s executive leadership to remain in place and has not moved to replace newer members whose terms have since expired.
“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,” he said. “While I am not suggesting any wrongdoing by the Board’s staff or current members, we must be ever vigilant and continue to look at measures to restore the public’s confidence in the Board’s actions and activities.”
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.”