Illinois to cut $1.6B in health costs; Medicaid advocates protest

The cuts include eliminating some popular programs, raising some co-pays and creates a system for hospital exemptions from taxes.

Chicago Sun-Times: Gov. Quinn Signs Medicaid Cuts, Cigarette Tax Into Law
Gov. Pat Quinn achieved one of his top legislative priorities Thursday, signing a $2.7 billion package of cuts and taxes designed to repair a long-term deficit in the state's Medicaid program. The Chicago Democrat signed five bills, including a tax increase on cigarettes of $1 a pack and $1.6 billion in Medicaid spending reductions (McKinney, 6/15).

Chicago Tribune: Quinn Says Medicaid Cuts Were Needed To Prevent Collapse
The new law calls for $1.6 billion in health care cuts, including the elimination of a discount prescription drug program for seniors and stricter eligibility requirements that will leave hundreds of thousands of people without health care coverage. Dental care for adults will be greatly curtailed, and some hospitals that care for patients will see their reimbursement rates slashed. The state will also beef up efforts to stop fraud and increase co-pays for brand-name prescription drugs and other services. In all, the reductions represent one of the largest single program cuts in Illinois history (Garcia and Groeninger, 6/15).

Reuters: Illinois Governor Signs Bills To Save Medicaid "From Collapse"
The Democratic governor had pushed lawmakers during the spring legislative session to pass reforms to pensions and Medicaid, the joint federal-state healthcare program for the poor, to keep the two big budget items from consuming even more than their current 39 percent of state general fund spending. While the Democrat-controlled General Assembly came through on Medicaid, a plan to tame Illinois' huge $83 billion unfunded pension liability fell apart as the session ended on May 31 (Pierog, 6/14).

Modern Healthcare: Ill. Governor Signs Tax-Exemption, Medicaid Laws
Quinn has signed two laws that create a new system for determining how hospitals can justify their exemptions from taxes, and clarifying exactly when providers must give care free of charge. Illinois' new system of forcing hospitals to prove they provide enough care for the needy in order to justify their exemptions from state property and sales taxes is likely to be watched nationally (Carlson, 6/14).

The Associated Press/Chicago Sun-Times: Advocates For Poor Condemn Illinois Medicaid Cuts
Barbara Otto of the Chicago-based national nonprofit Health and Disability Advocates berated the way Quinn left it up to legislative leaders in both parties to work out specific Medicaid cuts. "What kind of victory is this?" Otto said. "Cutting people off of Medicaid, in my mind, shows a lack of leadership." Kathy Chan of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition said her group is relieved most services for children were preserved but disappointed more than 25,000 working parents will lose state health coverage July 1 (Johnson, 6/14).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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