For nearly two centuries (since 1818), Illinois has been governed by its state constitution — not as a mere compact or historical document, but as a real, living embodiment of our bedrock principles.
Paramount among those principles, stated clearly and unequivocally in the state constitution’s preamble, is our obligation to “provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people”:
We, the People of the State of Illinois – grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing upon our endeavors – in order to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people; maintain a representative and orderly government; eliminate poverty and inequality; assure legal, social and economic justice; provide opportunity for the fullest development of the individual; insure domestic tranquility; provide for the common defense; and secure the blessings of freedom and liberty to ourselves and our posterity – do ordain and establish this Constitution for the State of Illinois.
That principle is more important than ever today as the Illinois Hospital Association and hospital community fight for and work to ensure that all Illinoisans have access to health care.
Last week, I testified in Springfield about the great harm to patients, communities and hospitals from a state government “shutdown” with no budget in place for the new fiscal year that started July 1. In my remarks I pointed out that there are serious implications for patients and hospitals, including decreased access to needed health care services, possible staff furloughs and layoffs, inability to pay vendors, and delays in needed improvements and life-saving technology. All of this seriously stresses the state’s ability to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people of Illinois.
Something must be done. While we wait for a final FY2016 budget to be approved by the General Assembly and the Governor, IHA urges legislators and the Governor to enact a one-month budget to continue payments for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries – children, seniors, families and the disabled – whose health, safety and welfare depend upon it.