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Franciscan Hospital v. Town of Canoe Creek

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 19, 1979.

FRANCISCAN HOSPITAL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE TOWN OF CANOE CREEK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County; the Hon. JOHN DONALD O'SHEA, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE STOUDER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Rock Island Franciscan Hospital, brought this suit in the circuit court of Rock Island County against the defendant, Town of Canoe Creek, to recover payment for services rendered to a resident of Canoe Creek Township pursuant to article VII of the Illinois Public Aid Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 23, par. 7-1 et seq.). Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for plaintiff in the amount of $2,145.

Article VII of the Illinois Public Aid Code (hereinafter the Code), captioned "Local Aid to the Medically Indigent" (hereinafter AMI) establishes a program under which individuals not eligible for other specified programs of public assistance may receive aid in meeting the costs of medically related services or funeral expenses from local governmental units. The basic elements of eligibility for AMI are that the individual be a resident of the governmental unit, fail to qualify for other assistance and have nonexempt income and assets, over a three-month period, which are above a departmental standard but below the amount of the individual's medical or funeral expenses. After the individual pays a portion of the expenses, the governmental unit pays the remainder. In the case at bar, applicant Roy Minge resided in Canoe Creek Township, was ineligible for other assistance, and had a family of six members to support on a three-month net income of $2,062.86. The Minge family lived in a rented mobile home furnished with an old refrigerator and stove, two half beds and one full bed, and was unable to pay for Clara Minge's hospitalization for a lump on her left side.

On appeal, defendant asserts two constitutional challenges concerning the AMI provisions: (1) that the provisions represent an invalid delegation of legislative power to an administrative agency and (2) that the rules promulgated pursuant to these provisions are violative of due process and equal protection. The challenged portions of the Code are as follows:

"§ 7-1. Eligibility Requirements.) Aid in meeting the costs of necessary medical, dental, hospital, boarding or nursing care, or burial shall be given under this Article to or in behalf of any person who meets the eligibility conditions of Sections 7-1.1 through 7-1.3." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 23, par. 7-1.

"§ 7-1.1 Residence.) * * *

The local governmental unit in which the person is at the time of his illness or death shall give or cause to be given the necessary aid. * * *" Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 23, par. 7-1.1.

"§ 7-1.2 Need.) The money, property, or other resources available to the person * * * must be insufficient to meet the costs of necessary care, as defined by standards established in accordance with Section 7-2 of this Article." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 23, par. 7-1.2.

"§ 7-2. Amount of Aid-Standards.) The person shall be given such care as may be necessary and proper, including transportation, and if he dies he shall be decently buried.

The amount and nature of the care provided shall be determined in accordance with a uniform standard of eligibility established by the Illinois Department and its rules and regulations. * * * The standard shall include provision for determining what, if any, portion of the income, property or other resources of an applicant or recipient is available to meet the cost of necessary care. * * *" Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 23, par. 7-2.

"§ 7-6 Recoveries.) Expenses incurred under this Section on behalf of a person having sufficient money, property, or other resources to meet in whole or in part the cost of care or burial * * * shall be recoverable * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 23, par. 7-6.

Defendant premises its challenge of these provisions on the fact that the terms "necessary" and "sufficient" and the captions "medically indigent" and "need" are not defined in article VII, resulting in an improper delegation of legislative power to the Illinois Department of Public Aid (hereinafter the Department) for lack of prescribed standards.

• 1, 2 Under the doctrine of the separation of the powers of government, the lawmaking function is assigned exclusively to the legislature. Except when authorized by the constitution, the legislature cannot delegate the power to make laws to any other authority or body. (E.g., People ex rel. Thomson v. Barnett (1931), 344 Ill. 62, 176 N.E. 108.) The evolving aspects of the valid delegation of legislative authority to administrative agencies and the need for standards or guidelines to validate such delegation was recently and comprehensively discussed in Stofer v. Motor Vehicle Casualty Co. (1977), 68 Ill.2d 361, 369 N.E.2d 875, where the court concluded:

"Accordingly, we find that the view which has developed through the decisions of this court in recent years requires that the legislature, in delegating its authority ...


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