Health Facilities Planning Board Makes Patients Wait for Cancer Treatment
Issue: Health Care
Contact: Kristina Rasmussen
Download the entire brief here (PDF).
Download the Policy Point summary here (PDF).
Imagine for a moment that your father, brother or husband had prostate cancer. That is bad enough, of course, but now imagine that they had to unnecessarily wait in long lines to get the most advanced and least invasive treatment possible, or perhaps, not receive this better treatment at all. Or imagine it is your son or daughter with a rare tumor and a new treatment can provide a better cure rate and less immediate, long-term side effects from the radiation treatment…but you have to wait in line, or perhaps find less effective alternatives. How could this happen?
Unless the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board allows two proton-therapy cancer treatment centers to go forward, these scenarios won’t be imaginary–they will be all too real for thousands of Illinois families.
Illinois’ incidence of cancer is higher than the national average. Incidences of cancer in age-adjusted population in Illinois are 473 cases per 100,000 Illinoisans. New technologies like proton therapy can deliver radiation treatments more accurately than conventional x-ray therapies. This accuracy allows tumors to be irradiated without harming surrounding healthy tissue. But Illinoisans may not have access to this innovative treatment if the government continues to ration care through the Health Facilities Planning Board.
Would you want your child or parent paying the price of long waiting lines or less effective treatment protocols so one government entity can protect another? The General Assembly should follow the advice of the bipartisan Illinois Commission on Forecasting and Government Accountability and sunset the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.
The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board manages the Illinois Certificate of Need Program whose purpose it is to restrain health care costs by preventing unnecessary construction or modifications of major health facilities. It was widely accepted in the 1970s that if government was going to play a larger role in health, it needed a way to rein in costs. It did so by rationing health care facilities. Like other 1970s economic ideas, such as wage and price controls, the effort backfired.
Illinois should eliminate its Health Facilities Planning Board, and the requirement that new health care facilities obtain a Certificate of Need.
Why This Works
In 1982 the federal government ended the requirement to have these boards. Fourteen states subsequently eliminated them. Since then a growing body of research has indicated these programs do little if any good. In fact, states that have eliminated them have seen more innovation in terms of specialty and private hospitals than states that have retained them.
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