Saturday, November 29, 2008

Illinois Has Egg on Its Face

It seems our state can give rides to seniors over 65 on our public transit system for free, but can't find a way to pay its obligations to our most needy in this state:
"Even in decent economic times, Illinois was not a state that funded people with developmental disabilities to the extent that other states have," says Lilia Teninty, director of the state's Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Illinois came in dead last -- 51st -- among all states and the District of Columbia in providing small residential settings for people with developmental disabilities. In terms of overall spending for community programs, it ranked 43rd.

Community Link hasn't been paid by the state since July for many services. Mr. Foppe and his staff whittled budgets, eliminating small bonuses, rug cleaning and renovation plans.
This crisis is made even more acute by the advances in medical care that have permitted children with severe developmental disabilities to outlive their parents, forcing many to receive care in larger institutional settings far from their own communities.

But there always seems to be money to build big buildings in our state. Especially big hospital buildings. One only needs to look down the road at SIU's SimmonsCooper Cancer Center in Springfield, IL which opened to great fanfare in July of this year, but:
"... the facility will not begin serving patients until late fall or early next year because of money cut from the state budget proposal for fiscal year 2009."
With such an 8-year construction albatross sitting empty in one of the more economically-depressed areas of the state, one wonders how deep the state is into construction of marble-lobbied health care facilities and political giveaways instead of funding critical basic health care and social needs in smaller, more meaningful venues.

-Wes

7 comments:

Andrew Garland said...

Small projects that help people in small groups have a small political advertising value.

A community center for the "developmentally disabled" is humanitarian, and gets a few stories in the news.

A large building with the title "Cancer Care" and a wing named after a politician and/or political donor stands as a billboard for the politician's benevolence to the community.

And, the politician can point to the building and say "jobs", to those who aren't so humanitarian.

DrWes said...

Andrew-

I guess the "jobs" argument would hold more weight if the "open" clinic was really open. As it stands right now, the only job being maintained is that of the landscaper who has to water the newly-planted greenery outside the center.

But I have no doubt the owners are probably putting the center to good use through depreciation and tax write-offs as the center sits empty.

Meanwhile, most of the disability circles in the state can't seem to find funding for critical social programs.

As you wisely point out, the interplay between marketing and health care delivery "plays" in political circles. But these days of economic shortcomings and higher health care costs, we're going to have to make some tough choices that might not involve the presence of more marble lobbies.

Andrew Garland said...

You should take the longer political view (sarcastic smile).

The jobs are distributed from building the center as well as operating it, and there are many political opportunities to get contributions from the people who built it and recieved the contracts.

It is a minor oversight that there are not enough funds today to operate it.

The tough choices are between projects that continue to elect the politician, or projects that help people who are not usually welcome in a neighborhood.

The politician says to himself "If I'm not elected, I can't work for the good." That is the first political priority.

Keith Sarpolis said...

Wes,

Boy, am I confused! SIU located in Carbondale builds a cancer center in Springfield while its campus is located in Carbondale? What gives!?

Cancer raises money since many folks have had someone suffer from this disease group. Witness Katie Couric telling everyone to get colonoscopies after her husband died prematurely of the disease. Same could be said for your field of expertise which is why hospitals are all rushing to have new cancer centers (aren't they builiong a new one at our hospital?), new cardiac cath labs, and new orthopedic centers.

The analogy would be sports programs at major universities where football often brings in the bucks and the donor money that supports every other sport that raises nothing. Those hospitals who o not excell in these areas are living on a shoestring. After all, where do you go to get the best psychiatric care?

The same wonderful analogy that applies to medicine and its fouled up mechanism of payment applies to funding in the great state of Illinois; funders an donors prefer fancy strutures they can put there names on. And some areas of medicine have more panash and glitz than others.

Keith Sarpolis said...

Wes,

Boy, am I confused! SIU located in Carbondale builds a cancer center in Springfield while its campus is located in Carbondale? What gives!?

Cancer raises money since many folks have had someone suffer from this disease group. Witness Katie Couric telling everyone to get colonoscopies after her husband died prematurely of the disease. Same could be said for your field of expertise which is why hospitals are all rushing to have new cancer centers (aren't they builiong a new one at our hospital?), new cardiac cath labs, and new orthopedic centers.

The analogy would be sports programs at major universities where football often brings in the bucks and the donor money that supports every other sport that raises nothing. Those hospitals who o not excell in these areas are living on a shoestring. After all, where do you go to get the best psychiatric care?

The same wonderful analogy that applies to medicine and its fouled up mechanism of payment applies to funding in the great state of Illinois; funders an donors prefer fancy strutures they can put there names on. And some areas of medicine have more panash and glitz than others.

DrWes said...

Keith-

SIU uses Memorial Hospital and St. John's Hospitals in Springfield, IL as teaching hospitals. To me, it remains puzzling that this newly-constructed center has not opened because it requires funding from the state. Can it not support itself on it's own or must taxpayers of Illinois support this buildings' operational existence in order for it to open its doors? The point here is we're going to have to consider the motives of further building projects in underserved areas carefully, since the costs of delivering that care may exceed the patient's ability to pay and make such a center financially viable.

Anonymous said...

The albatross list should include the 2 proton beam facilities - to be located within 5 miles of each other - proposed by Northern Illinois University and Central DuPage Hospital. What a waste...