News & Announcements

IDPH, ICAHN release research on impact of Illinois' CAH program


The Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Rural Health and the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN) are pleased to announce the release of a new publication that evaluates the impact of the critical access hospital program in Illinois and whether it provides the necessary financial stability to preserve access to quality health care services in rural communities. 

The publication, “Illinois Critical Access Hospital Program: Learning From the Past, Building the Future,” was written in collaboration with Northern Illinois University Center for Government Studies researchers Melissa Henriksen, Norman Walzer, and Andy Blanke, and explores current and emerging issues and challenges in rural health care, while looking ahead to the future of CAHs and the CAH program in Illinois.

ICAHN, along with financial partners, Lancaster Pollard, the Murray Company, Eide Bailly LLP, Nixon Peabody, and Shive-Hattery, collaborated with the Center for Government Studies (CGS) to gain a better understanding of major demographic, economic, and policy changes affecting rural health care and how CAH designation has benefited CAHs in Illinois. The most recent report included a review of the CAH program and designation, a 2014 CGS-ICAHN survey of Illinois CAHs, and in-depth data analysis. Key themes included :

  • Forty-seven of 84 rural counties had elderly proportions at least one-third higher than the state of Illinois, placing even more pressure on small rural hospitals to provide essential services for a less mobile population.
  • Health care is a major industry for local employment, and in 2013 represented 15.5% of the employment in rural Illinois counties compared with 13.5% for the state.
  • CAH administrators are evaluating current services and examining alternative delivery formats as they respond to current and future needs of their communities, regardless of changes in legislation.
  • Most respondents with hospitalist programs reported increases in provider and patient satisfaction and hospital quality outcomes.

Funding was made available through the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant program of the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Illinois was the second state in the nation in 1999 to implement the critical access hospital (CAH) program, a new Medicare certification, and federal reimbursement program created to prevent small rural hospital closures. The CAH program was designed to assist these same rural hospitals in modernizing their facilities and to focus more on outpatient and primary care services needed by the rural communities served. 

For the four-page synopsis of the report, click here.
For the full report, click here.