The Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) presented its fourth annual Rural Legislator of the Year Awards to Congressman Timothy Johnson (R-15), State Senator John Sullivan (D-47, Rushville) and State Representative Jim Watson (R-97, Jacksonville) for their strong commitment and support of small and rural hospitals.
"Small and rural hospitals have unique needs and face many challenges, such as access to care and delivery of services, that need to be addressed both on the state and federal levels," said IHA President Maryjane Wurth. "These three leaders have partnered with their local hospitals to understand these issues and have worked to address them."
Congressman Johnson was honored for his proven track record supporting health care in rural Illinois. He endorsed legislation to protect the designation for rural health clinics and to restore federal funding for Critical Access Hospital services. With a personal interest in health and wellness, Congressman Johnson championed an expansion of the school fruit and vegetable snack program in the Farm Bill.
Senator Sullivan was recognized for supporting the unique health care needs in rural West-Central Illinois. He has championed legislation to improve Emergency Medical Services for rural health care providers. In 2009, Sen. Sullivan served as one of the chief architects of the state's first comprehensive capital construction bill in a decade, designed to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and improve critical infrastructure, schools, hospitals and roads.
Representative Watson was recognized for his help to ensure that quality health care is delivered throughout his district which includes four hospitals covering portions of seven counties. Commended for his thorough knowledge of health care topics including nursing, Medicaid reimbursement and mental health, Rep. Watson has worked to protect health care by co-sponsoring House bills for Critical Access Hospital payments, Community Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Service restoration and Regional Integrated Behavioral Health Networks.
IHA's Rural Legislator of the Year Awards recognize a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, a member of the Illinois Senate, and a member of the Illinois Congressional delegation for their leadership on rural health policies and their efforts to pass legislation and support initiatives that improve the ability of rural hospitals to serve their communities. Recipients are based on nominations from small and rural hospital leaders.
IHA's Small & Rural Hospitals Constituency Section includes 88 hospitals that either have fewer than 150 acute care beds and/or are located outside a metropolitan statistical area. They held their annual meeting in Springfield June 14-16 to share ideas on how to better serve their patients and communities. Illinois' small rural hospitals employ more than 38,000 people, or 15.8% of the state's hospital workforce. Collectively, small rural hospitals across the state have a total economic impact of more than $7.6 billion annually.
The Illinois Hospital Association, with offices in Naperville, Springfield, and Washington, D.C., represents and is an advocate for 200 Illinois hospitals and health systems and the patients and communities they serve.