Updated: Carle to pursue expansion request after "intent to deny" from the state

Updated: Carle to pursue expansion request after "intent to deny" from the state

NEW 5 p.m. Thursday:

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing was among those who testified before the state board this week against the Carle tower project.

She said she doesn't want Carle to have a monopoly in the local community.

This comes as Carle and Urbana are in an ongoing dispute over the health care organization's payment of property taxes.

NEW 2:55 p.m. Thursday:

The administrator of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board said a staff report shows the additional beds that the Carle Foundation wants to add to its Urbana hospital aren't needed in the area.

The health facilities board this week issued an "intent to deny" on Carle's application for a "certificate of need" to add 48 medical-surgical beds to the hospital's 212 bed facility.   The beds would be located on the top floor of the Carle tower, which was left unfinished for future needs.

Carle spokesperson Jennifer Hendricks Kaufman said Carle needs the additional beds to help provide specialty care not available in the area and to meet a higher volume of patients.

But Health Facilities and Services Review Board Administrator Courtney Avery said the findings of a staff report show that the June 2014 bed inventory shows an excess of 158 medical-surgical beds in the planning area and that the proposed project does not appear to meet the expansion criteria.

Kaufman said Carle needed only one more vote from the board for approval this week and that three board members were absent.  She said Carle is continuing discussions with the health facilities board.

Carle lists the cost of the project in the application at $17.8 million.


Original story:

A Carle Foundation spokesperson said Carle officials  will go before a state review board again as it pursues its application to develop the ninth floor of the hospital's Carle tower in Urbana and add beds in the space.

Carle officials appeared before the Health Facilities and Services Review Board earlier this week.  The board issued an "intent to deny" the request for a "certificate of need" on the project.  But Carle spokesperson Jennifer Hendricks-Kaufman said the action came when four board members voted in favor of the certificate when at least five votes are required, while there were two votes in opposition. She said other board members were absent.

Carle is using the first eight floors of the tower and left the ninth floor unfinished for future needs.  Kaufman said the hospital wants to add 48 medical-surgical beds to the ninth floor to help provide specialty care that patients can't receive elsewhere in the area.  She said the added beds are also needed to meet the higher volume of patients the hospital is already treating.

The cost of the project is listed in the application to the state at $17.8 million.  No date has been set yet for Carle to go back before the state health facilities board.

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EMT wrote on July 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Is it an editorial oversight that the NG doesn't mention the presence (pun intended) of the Urbana mayor at this meeting and her opposition to Carle's efforts to provide even better care to the patients who choose to go there?



Tim Ditman wrote on July 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm
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You're correct in that the mayor was present at the meeting, but leaving that information out of our original story was not an intentional omission.  We've updated the story with the mayor's comments.

EdRyan wrote on July 17, 2014 at 8:07 am

That certainly adds some interesting context to the situation.

youlikeroses wrote on July 17, 2014 at 9:07 am

Wait, Prussing went to speak against this? Wow, just wow.

wayward wrote on July 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Here are the documents on the Health Facilities and Services Review Board site:


(You have to scroll down to get to one for Carle.)  I thought that the letter of support from Decatur Memorial Hospital was kind of interesting, given that Decatur is slightly closer to Springfield than Urbana.  Springfield's a pretty big regional healthcare center, with SIU School of Medicine and two hospitals that each have more beds than Carle (Memorial and St. Johns).

ilmsff7 wrote on July 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Typical scorched-earth politics from Prussing.  If she can't have her way and have Carle pay taxes she will spitefully try to harm the second-largest employer in her city.

And the patients who need Carle specialities are the losers.

wayward wrote on July 17, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Well, Presence also wrote letters of opposition, so it's not quite like everybody except Prussing thought it was a great idea.

EdRyan wrote on July 18, 2014 at 9:07 am

Carle is a regional specialty care provider so the medical needs of people residing in a wide radius have to be considered.  While the main Carle facility is located there, Urbana is not the center of our universe.  

enoughalready wrote on July 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

A monopoly?  Pot, meet kettle.  The mayor's unchecked authority is the only monopoly in this community.

Isn't there another hospital down the street?  Didn't Presence just announce their own $4 million expansion plans? Businesses of Urbana beware:  if you want to grow your business you better be sure the mayor approves or she will work against your plans to serve your customers. 

Kremlin Watcher wrote on July 18, 2014 at 11:07 am

I'm with Laurel Prussing on this one. Carle should pay its taxes like anyone else. Any Carle expansion is likely to serve non-Urbana residents. If any of those new patients are charity cases, you can bet that Carle will claim them against its Urbana property taxes. 

enoughalready wrote on July 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Your argument is moot. If you ingore the non-Urbana residents of east central Illinois who received charity care, Carle's charity care to Urbana residents is still more than the Urbana property tax bill.  In other words, they would still meet the test under the Illinois law that Rep. Jakobsson voted for.  Move along.



BlahBlahBlah2013 wrote on July 21, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Sadly the argument is in fact moot. Carle will never pay property taxes. You can group Carle in with those Fortune 500 companies that skip out on paying taxes by finding loopholes, or in this case, hiring lobbyist to write self-serving laws to save millions a year by claiming a normal business expense as, "charity." It's business and unfortunately for taxpayers, it's legal.

To fight Carle directly on this is a waste of resources. In order to win you have to go to the source and change the law. I would certainly do that if I were in a position to do so. Carle can absolutely afford to pay its fair share and still thrive. They want everybody to believe they are scraping by. I don't know if its their arrogance or what, but they actually think the public believes them.



youlikeroses wrote on July 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Good idea Laurel, let's go to toe to toe with our largest employer who wants to grow. You're not going to win, actually we all have more to lose. How many more jobs would this have been for 48 additional beds/patients? Easily over 150 jobs. How many more meals at Subway, DQ, Einsteins, Bunnys, down at the Boneyard Creek Walkway, guests at the presitgious Urbana Landmark Hotel?

Get over it and move on, everyone else has. 

choco640 wrote on July 21, 2014 at 11:07 am

Lets not forget that insurance companies also dictate where you can receive your care. Many people must go to Carle for inpatient care and do not have the choice of going down the street.  With all of the new people having coverage these beds are probably needed. 

BlahBlahBlah2013 wrote on July 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Interesting that you point that out. Carle owns Health Alliance and there's a reason they still own them. Health Alliance drives a lot of members through Carle's doors. That incesteous relationship isn't good for patients and more than likely drives up prices in this area. I would love to see a law saying that hospitals can no longer own insurance companies. Maybe Chapin Rose and Mike Frerichs should focus on this dirty little secret instead of shamelessly supporting Health Alliance everytime something doesn't go their way.

Typical politics though, completely missing the point.



bluegrass wrote on July 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I don't know about the rest of the citizens of East Central Illinois, but personally I will sleep so much better at night knowing people like Health Facilities and Services Review Board Administrator Courtney Avery is on the job looking out for us.  I mean, THE NERVE of a hospital wanting to bring a $17 million plus building project to this community and build more hospital beds.  


BlahBlahBlah2013 wrote on July 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

The impact on jobs would be minimal at best. Another floor of beds would most likely mean more work for the existing Carle staff, including nurses, receoptionists, cleaning crews, etc...150 new employees isn't going to happen. Not even close.

Likely more beds is simply about ego and appearances, which is very important to the leaders of Carle. Is it really needed? Probably not. But ultimately they will get approval to add the new beds. What Carle wants, Carle gets. Suppose it's not the end of the world.

I guess a positve would be some more construction jobs in the short term. Obviously wouldn't impact tax revenue since Carle doesn't pay any to begin with.

And I had to chuckle at the "Prestigious" hotel comment. If there was ever a hotel that needed demolished and redeveloped, this is it. Old and outdated, poor location, inefficient, attached to a mall that is no longer relevant. Just like Country Fair in Champaign, hopefully someone will come along and redevelop it someday.


IlliniwekMerica wrote on July 22, 2014 at 8:07 am

In one comment you're calling the pretty smart business move for a hospital of owning a health insurance company "incestuous", now you're saying they're expanding for reasons of ego and appearances and adding beds to a hospital will in no way add jobs or payroll.


Sounds like you have a personal axe to grind against Carle, or you just don't understand that they are a business like any other that also happens to be the 2nd largest employer in our community. I know it's popular with some to bash the people that provide a giant boost to our local economy because "fair share" and all that emotional nonsense, but if you look at it logically, adding on to the hospital can only be a good thing for the community through competition and added jobs. 


And the only way anyone is getting Carle to pay property taxes is by changing the law, which won't happen, because they are providing a greater $ benefit to the community through charity services then the propert tax bill would generate.

BlahBlahBlah2013 wrote on July 22, 2014 at 11:07 am

You are missing the bigger picture, which isn't surprising since most do. I'm pro business. Carle is entitled to profit and make money. I don't beleive we should all make the same salary or profit the same. That's nonsense. There are people out there like that, of course, but I'm not one of them. I just believe it must be done in a fair and legal manner. I question whether that's the case here.There is nothing inherently wrong with owning an insurance company. However, it lends itself to trying to manipulate the market. And you would have to be pretty naive to think Carle doesn't use Health Alliance in that way. Also, in my opinion there is no way adding 40+ beds will result in 150 new jobs. It probably should result in 150 jobs but it won't. I would be glad to admit I'm wrong if it comes to that.

I have no axe to grind. I'm not an employee of Carle or Health Alliance and have no desire to be. I'm merely an observer and I'm pointing out some pretty serious issues with Carle's ego driven behavior. I'm certainly not the only one who views them as an arrogant corporate bully with motives that go well beyond helping the community.

Also, I desperatley want to support Carle. I would love to see a medical school here in Champaign-Urbana. That would be huge for our area. But I just feel Carle can do a much better job at being a good corporate citizen. And doing this goes well beyond the number of employees they have.

Fair share? Nah. I just believe in a free market and when a company attempts to corner the market, as I feel Carle is doing on multiple fronts, it goes against a "free" market. I go to Christie now as a direct result of Carle's price gouging. If you want to go to Carle that's certainly your choice. Just don't complain when prices continue to rise because of no competition in the area. You've already had a taste of it with the $205 "facility fee" but that will only be the beginning.


enoughalready wrote on July 23, 2014 at 9:07 am

I think you might be missing the bigger picture.  Carle is one of 5,000 hospitals in this country.   The government, the largest payer of healthcare services, is demanding that hosptials and physicians become more aligned and connected.  The government and insurance companies are demanding that health care providers offer soup to nuts services and are shifting payments to support system approaches versus separate payments.  The goverment is demanding 'population health' capabilities which means that primary care, speciality care and hospital care are connected.  Carle is acting rationally in this new 'free' market.  It's easy to see that viewing these changes through a local lens can lead to emotional reactions, but Carle is doing what most hospitals are doing in response to this new world order of healthcare.  Let's not forget that Presence recently merged with Chicago's Resurrection Health System in order to gain scale and scope for the same reasons that Carle is expanding and growing (Presence is a much bigger system than Carle, by the way).  But Carle is the only local health system that offers this broader array of services as Presence and Christie have not really expanded or invested in this market. 

BlahBlahBlah2013 wrote on July 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm

There are many hospitals who probably dominate a market, like Carle. And just like Carle I think it's had an impact on out of control healthcare costs. Inefficiencies and fraud, as well as being slow to embrace technologies have played a part as well but market dominance bordering on a monopoly absolutely raises prices.

Carle's blatantly obvious facility fee is a perfect example. Legal? Sadly yes. But really there was no real justification for it. A service that cost $500 on Friday cost $705 on Monday. Labor costs didn't go up. Indirect costs didn't increase over the weekend. The procedure still took the same amount of time. So how were they able to do it? Because they could. Carle's unwritten message to its patients? "What are u gonna do about it?" They took advantage of their market dominance. And now all, ok most, are paying for it. This is why antitrust laws exist and monopolies are illegal. 

Almost no other business could get by with gouging their "customers" the way Carle has. One exception would be oil companies but there are other dynamics at play there. 

So what to do about it. Well Carle has become so dominate there might not be much anybody can do and that spells trouble for consumers. Leonard and team want total control because control gives them even more pricing power. (Don't be fooled by their passive aggressive press releases). And unlike coffee or milk you can't very well go without at least some healthcare services. Justify this all you want but I hope you either have deep pockets, stay very healthy, or like me are able to go elsewhere for these services.


Mr Dreamy wrote on July 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm

The building is already built. The hospital wants to put beds in an empty space. Who in their right mind could be against that. Unless you have a political agenda.

And if you have a political agenda against hospital beds, shame on you.

This isn't a nuclear test facility, or a super max prison, or a chemical plant, people.