Thousands of Presence Health employees take action regarding Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's proposed Medicaid budget cuts


Employees from all departments of Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center sign big letters


Bob Cech, Region Financial Officer; Steve Vanderpoel, CEO, Chicago Children's Center for Behavioral Health; and Jane Stenske, Region Dir. for Quality and Safety

In response to Illinois Governor Rauner's proposed $1.5 billion reduction of the Illinois Medicaid programming, giant letters from thousands of Presence Health employees are being signed at Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center (PSMEMC), 2233 W. Division St.

They will be will be hand-delivered to their intended Springfield lawmakers from all 11 Presence Health Hospitals. 

“Hospitals cannot absorb these proposed Medicaid cuts, provide quality care to Illinoisans and transform the Medicaid program and health care delivery system at the same time,” said Martin Judd, Regional President and CEO, PSMEMC. “We believe that Illinois can be both competitive and compassionate. We therefore look forward to working with our State lawmakers to do whatever we can to address the State’s financial challenges while preserving critical health care services.” 


Martin Judd

“Efforts supported by Presence Health, including care coordination and early interventions to create healthier communities, are making substantial progress in reducing health care costs. Illinois’ spending on Medicaid has been reduced by more than $1 billion since 2012. We are advocating for smart investment in Medicaid, not wholesale cuts,” said Judd. 

Judd along with 6 to 8 other hospital CEOs are in Springfield talking with legislators about how to get to efficient medical spending through collaboration.

Regional Strategy and Growth Officer at PSMEMC, John Hennelly, said Wednesday morning to staff: 

  • The Medicaid program provides critical health care coverage to 1 of every 3 citizens of the State. That represents nearly 3.1 million people, half of whom are children and the elderly
  • Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center is the largest hospital provider of Medicaid services in the State of Illinois
  • Nearly 35% of our patients depend on Medicaid for their health care
  • The Proposed budget will have a disproportionately large impact upon hospitals like ours that care for some of our State's most vulnerable.
  • We simply cannot drastically reduce services to Medicaid recipients statewide and cut reimbursement to providers -- including hospitals, doctors and nursing homes.

Nellie Lugo and John Hennelly talk with Emma and her mom Edna Villegas, did not learn that she was having a high risk pregnancy until her 7th month

"For example, in the last 5 years, we have provided for 7,500 women at risk women with breast cancer and cervical screenings.

"Whether fully or partially reducing funding to these critical services would inflict harm on:

  • families, children and the elderly who rely on Medicaid to pay for their care
  • health care providers who care for them
  • the economies of communities where hospitals provide many good-paying jobs and buy services
  • the progress made through the Accountable Car Act and other provider-based initiatives to transform and modernze the Medicaid program and the health care delivery system"
Impact of cuts
Between the two campuses of St. Mary and St. Elizabeth, the program has saved lives BEFORE individuals were in a catastrophic health state.

Margaret Slowik talks with Nurse Practitioner, Kate Jackson and Suzann Lampbert, Chief Nursing Officer

Margaret Slowick, part of PSMEMC's radiology team, explained how the mammography screenings currently saved two women's lives. One is a woman in her 50s. She had enrolled in the Affordable Care Act and then lost her job. Her screening identified breast cancer and was guided through the next steps of treating her so she could continue with living a healthy life.
Slowick said another patient was a young woman from the neighborhood. Cancer was found and she is in the midst of treatment right now.
Born on Easter, Emma is a healthy baby with a healthy mom because Edna Villegas, in the 7th month of her pregnancy was identified as high risk. Nellie Lugo, RN, certified in labor and delivery, explained that the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic at PSMEMC, working with Dr. Heather Stanley from Cook County, is able to offer a comprehensive range of personalized high-risk obstetrical care and fetal treatment services.
If the Medicaid funds are cut, most likely PSMEMC will not be able to maintain this clinic.

The already beleaguered mental health needs in Illinois could be further slashed.

Pediatric service reduction will place the most innocent at risk.

Early intervention community programs would be eliminated.

The cut back and elimination of these services will result in more costly emergency room visits because there will be no preventative care.

What is next?
"Presence Health is working closely with the Governor's Office, our State Senators and our State Representatives to strongly advocate that we NOT balance the State budget on the backs of the most vulnerable," explains Hennelly. 

He encourages everyone to send messages to Senators Delgado and Martinez and Representatives Soto and Guzzardi about the significance of these proposed cuts will have on thousands of individuals and the entire healthcare industry.

As he says, "It's important for all of us to join in and advocate together. We are stronger together. Together our voices will be heard.

Big Letter Campaign
The BIG Letter Campaign focuses on three points in the proposed Medicaid cuts:

  • Drastic cuts would dramatically limit, and in some cases, end services that those in need may not otherwise have access to, or are able to afford. This would have a devastating effect on the ability of community hospitals to care for the poor, under-served and uninsured.
  • In the long-term, cuts will increase expenses. Programs recently implemented to reduce health care costs for patients are the very programs that will be cut. An increase in costly emergency room visits and expensive care for acute illness is almost a certainty.
  • Hospitals are major economic engines and employers for their local communities and the State. Cuts to Medicaid funding could result in hurting local economies. 

The letters, which will be delivered to State legislators in Springfield in the coming weeks, highlight specific programs most vulnerable to pending cuts, including free mammograms for women at risk of breast cancer, behavioral health counseling for families and individuals, diabetes education, pre-natal care for expectant mothers and pediatric care for children. 



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Insert images and media with <pp_img> or <pp_media>. See formatting options for syntax.

More information about formatting options