Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and state House Speaker Michael Madigan say the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board should be overhauled now that federal officials are investigating it.
Madigan introduced legislation Tuesday to dissolve the board, which reviews proposals to build or expand hospitals in the state, and let the governor appoint nine new members.
"I think there's a problem there," said Madigan, a Democrat from Chicago. "I think the problem ought to be addressed. I think the current group ought to exit."
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said he didn't know when the House might consider the legislation.
The investigation of the planning board stems from allegations raised last month by Edward Hospital of Naperville, Ill., in a sealed whistle-blower lawsuit that was filed in federal court, according to published reports.
Hospital officials have alleged they were pressured by a Deerfield, Ill., contractor and a bond firm to use those companies if they wanted the planning board to approve its expansion project for a new $169 million hospital in the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, Ill., the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune have reported.
The government's inquiry of the health facilities planning board also includes its decision to approve plans by Mercy Health System of Wisconsin for an $81 million hospital in the northern Illinois community of Crystal Lake.
Barbra Bortner, a Mercy spokeswoman, said the health system is cooperating with the inquiry and maintains it did nothing wrong.
Blagojevich said he learned about the investigation into the board about a month ago.
"The first thing I did was we contacted my inspector general, and she got involved immediately and began investigating the different allegations I heard about. Since, she's been asked by the U.S. attorney to suspend her investigation pending theirs," the governor said.
No one answered the telephone Tuesday evening at the planning board's offices in Springfield.