Originally Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013, 9:41 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 14, 2013, 10:10 pm
Legislators hear complaints about funding cuts for hospitals
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By Tricia Cathcart, firstname.lastname@example.org
A backlog of applications for professional licenses threatens the ability of hospitals to hire doctors as needed, Illinois legislators were told at a town hall forum at Genesis Medical Center's Illini Campus in Silvis on Monday.
Dr. James Bull, a former member of the Genesis board of directors, said $8 million was cut from the state Department of Professional Regulation, with the result that it could take 12 to 18 months to process physician's applications for licenses, compared to the usual three to six months.
This affects not only new physicians but also older ones who need to be relicensed every few years, he said.
"People could come into the emergency room, and we may not have any physicians there because all the existing physicians won't have a license to practice," Dr. Bull said. "It's hard enough to recruit physicians, let alone the problems (that we are now experiencing) getting them licensed."
All four legislators present -- Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, Reps. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, Don Moffit, R-Gilson, and Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale -- agreed that licensing is a high priority but said there simply isn't enough manpower to complete everything in a timely and cost-effective manner.
"Be aware that we are seriously, seriously, shorthanded," Sen.Jacobs told the 30 or so people present.
"The biggest issue is money," he said. "We don't have enough of it, or we don't take very good care of what we've got. We are hurting for money."
Physicians aren't the only health care employees experiencing problems because of budget cuts. Home care workers, who assist seniors and people with disabilities, are facing cutbacks, too.
Lynda Harper, a representative of the Department of Rehabilitative Services, said she still is a , searching for the aid she was assured during the campaign season would come. "Because of unpaid bills and the budget cuts, the health services program has a shortfall of $40 million. Even worse, the senior programs have a deficit of $173 million," she said.
Ms. Harper is pushing for a supplemental bill that ultimately would save the state money, she says, by caring for for seniors and the disabled in their own homes as opposed to sending them to public nursing homes.
"During the campaign, oh, they felt our pain, oh, they cried with us, but I want to see some action," said Ms. Harper. "I'm going to be on them, every lobby day I'm going to be right there."
The lawmakers expressed remorse about the sheer lack of funding that the government has to offer at the moment.
"I wish I were Daddy Warbucks," said Rep. Verschoore. "Every agency that came in to see me was more than deserving, but when they say that cuts need to be made in the budget, that's what we have to do."