BIG TIME RUSH: Illinois is in a hurry to get $5 billion, radically
Illinois is rushing toward an overhaul of its Medicaid system, even
as the people tasked with caring for the sick, the old and the
disabled are begging for the state to slow down.
"We're disappointed in the lack of detail regarding implementation
and oversight," said Vicky Kean, a lobbyist representing United
Cerebral Palsy of Illinois and 52 other Medicaid service providers.
"It leaves us with more questions than answers."
STILL GONNA WORK? Advocates have serious
concerns about the future of Medicaid.
Kean wasn't the only advocate at Friday's public hearing begging
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's administration for details on what will
happen to the nearly 3 million enrollees if Quinn gets permission
for his planned massive Medicaid overhaul.
The governor wants to use a $5 billion infusion of up-front money to
radically change how Illinois pays for health care for its most
needed. Group homes for the disabled would be closed, more community
care centers would be opened and Medicaid enrollees would be moved
into a managed care system.
Michael Gelder, Quinn's senior policy adviser on health care,
explained that the governor has three goals with the massive
"To improve the health of the population, to improve the
effectiveness of our health care delivery system and to reduce unnecessary
costs," Gelder told advocates at Friday's public
But what does that mean?
Diane Drew, president of the Illinois Association of Community Care
Providers, said no one knows.
And worse, Drew said, no one in the governor's office is trying to
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"There has been no public discussion of operational details,"
Drew said. "Important operational questions have been responded to
with a standard response: 'Details will be worked out later.'"
Drew said "later" may not be enough time for Illinois' multitude of
service providers to adjust to new rules.
Those new rules will include to-be-determined tax rates for
providers, the acceptable number of Medicaid clients in a group home
and even whether local public health departments will be considered
"in network" for the state's managed care system.
One thing that has been determined, Gelder said: Illinois will have
to add hundreds or thousands of new (likely union) jobs.
"This is a very, very exciting opportunity that the governor wants
us to use to get as much federal money in the state's Medicaid
program," Gelder noted. "We can use that money to reinvest in our home and
community based service programs, in expanding our workforce."
The governor is expected to offer a few more details about the plan
later next month when he delivers his budget.
Illinois still has to ask the federal government for permission to
change the Medicaid program, and it's unclear when that will happen
or when the state will get an answer.
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him
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