broke getting well: Reforming Medicaid in IL won’t come cheaply
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SPRINGFIELD (Illinois Watchdog) — Illinois
wants to save money on Medicaid, but before that happens taxpayers will
have to pull out their wallets. Several times, probably.
To get $5 billion from Washington, D.C., Illinois will have to spend
about $400 million a year on new programs.
|GOTTA SPEND MONEY TO SAVE MONEY: IL’s Medicaid reform is
based on spending more to (maybe) save down the road.
The price tag for Illinois’ massive Medicaid overhaul came,
reluctantly, from Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration Tuesday.
“The new programs are in the neighborhood of $300 million to $400
million,” Doug Elwell, the managing principal of Health Management
Associates a firm working with the state, told lawmakers.
But that’s just some of the first-year costs, and those costs are
expected to rise.
“It looks like you’ve suddenly bumped the growth figure so you can grow
the program, and still meet the budget neutrality requirement,” said
state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, noting the Quinn administration is
planning for a 5 percent expansion of Illinois’ $13 billion-a-year
Illinois’ Deputy Gov. Cristal Thomas said Illinois has trimmed its
Medicaid program over the past few years, yet the Obama administration
wants Illinois to grow Medicaid, he said.
WE’LL LET YOU KNOW: Thomas (middle) told lawmakers they are not part of
“A lot of what we have in this (plan) is the direction that the federal
government wants to see us go,” Thomas told Righter.
Illinois wants to overhaul its Medicaid system by changing how, and how
much, it pays to take care of the sick, the poor and the old.
One of those major changes involves spending $60 million dollars a year
to take Medicaid money, used for hospital stays or medication, and
instead pay for homes for the homeless.
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Illinois’ Medicaid reforms would mean Medicaid expansion. The
state wants to add new telemedicine programs, create a new
bureaucratic layer of region at health hubs and even try to spend
health-care money on a food-safety program.
Lawmakers are skeptical.
“The General Assembly needs to be engaged in this process,” Righter
said, adding that the Legislature needs to give the Medicaid
question the due diligence of a new law.
Deputy Gov. Thomas told Righter she would advise the General
Assembly, but she made it clear: The Quinn administration is working
with the Obama administration. No one else is needed.
“The negotiations are between the state and the federal government,”
Thomas said. “We’d be happy to keep members of the General Assembly
informed to whatever extent (they) would like.”
Illinois is racing toward a March deadline to file its Medicaid
overhaul — officially known as a 115 Waiver — with the federal
But Thomas said it will be January 2016, at the earliest, before
Illinois can begin its Medicaid overhaul.
For now, Illinois lawmakers will try to manage a Medicaid system
that will swell to nearly 3 million people and will cost nearly $14
billion in the next state budget.
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him
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