Illinois this summer will launch a five-year demonstration project to examine the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of subacute care.
The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board in July is expected to award seven hospitals and six long-term-care facilities special subacute-care licenses. The demonstration project is part of the state's Alternative Health Care Delivery Act, which was passed in 1992.
The purpose of the project is to help state officials decide whether to establish a separate licensing category for subacute care, said state planning coordinator Phillip Garner. Currently, none of the 50 states offer separate licensing for subacute-care programs, he said.
The project also will determine whether the Illinois Department of Public Aid-the state agency that administers Medicaid-should create a separate reimbursement category for subacute care, he said.
The 13 pilot sites won't receive special Medicaid reimbursement during the demonstration project because the state currently doesn't recognize subacute care as a new level of service, he said.
"Subacute care is not a new type of service, like birthing centers or 48-hour emergency-care units," he said. "It doesn't focus on the service or the setting; it focuses on reimbursement."
However, the 13 providers in the demonstration project will receive a lifetime subacute-care license from the state. They'll also be allowed legally to advertise their facilities as subacute-care hospitals-even if the state eventually decides against creating a separate licensing category for subacute care.
The project's biggest benefit may be in helping state officials decide which setting is more suitable to administer subacute care: hospitals or nursing facilities.
"Hospitals clearly offer a wider range of (subacute-care) services on average than nursing homes," said Christopher Bailey, assistant vice president of the Illinois Hospital Association. He said the state should clearly identify whether hospitals or nursing facilities should deliver subacute care.
With such high stakes, the demonstration project has attracted inquiries from 95 providers, and the planning board expects more interest in the next month, Mr. Garner said.
The IHA and the Illinois Health Care Association each have received inquires from about 50 providers, their executives said.
The planning board officially will accept provider applications at the end of May and will award the 13 subacute-care contracts by late July.