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Gov. Blagojevich calls on Bush administration to back down on proposal to cut Medicaid funding          Send a link to a friend

Federal cuts could mean loss of $623 million to Illinois' public hospitals and other Medicaid providers

Governor urges federal government to increase support for states working to expand access to health care

[FEB. 1, 2007]  CHICAGO -- Governor Rod R. Blagojevich on Wednesday called on President George Bush to back down on his proposal to cut federal funding for public hospitals and other Medicaid providers around the state, and urged the President to increase financial support for states that are working to expand access to healthcare. The Governor also blasted the Bush administration for seeking significant changes to Medicaid through administrative rule and without review or approval by elected members of the U.S. Congress. Earlier this month, the Bush administration proposed new rules that would cut funding to public hospitals and clinics that provide healthcare to the nation's most underserved communities.

"The proposed cuts by the Bush Administration would represent a serious financial blow to hospitals and nursing homes providing health care to those who need it most," said Gov. Blagojevich. "Without the current funding arrangements, hospitals and other public healthcare providers would be forced to dramatically cut back services or close their doors. It is time for the federal government to recognize the commitment by states around the country to expand healthcare to those who need it, and increase --not cut -- federal support of those efforts."

Current Medicaid rules allow state and local governments that own or run hospitals to receive more money for Medicaid services, beyond what the standard Medicaid rates pay, and draw a federal match on those additional dollars. The rule proposed by the Bush administration would end that arrangement, and would dramatically limit the services that public hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics could provide. In Illinois, the cuts would mean a loss of $623 million to Illinois' public hospitals and other Medicaid providers, including up to $235 million to the Cook County Hospital System, which is already facing a serious budget shortfall that is threatening the delivery of services to Chicago's most underserved communities.

The Governor also called on President Bush to increase financial support for states that are working to expand access to healthcare. Over the last year, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have followed Illinois' lead to expand healthcare to more uninsured children, and earlier this month, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his proposal to do the same.

Shortly after taking office in 2003, the Governor increased the income threshold for children in KidCare from 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to 200 percent, and in November 2005, the Governor signed All Kids into law, making healthcare affordable for the families of every uninsured child in the state. All Kids made Illinois the first state in the nation to offer affordable, comprehensive health coverage to every uninsured child. Under Governor Blagojevich, the state has provided health coverage to more than 313,000 children who didn't have it before.

Gov. Blagojevich also worked to further expand FamilyCare by increasing the eligibility level for benefits on three occasions, from 133 percent of the federal poverty level (annual household income of $25,740 for a family of four) to 185 percent of the federal poverty level (an annual household income of $35,796 for a family of four). Under Governor Blagojevich, more than 500,000 Illinoisans now have healthcare who did not before.

Earlier this month, The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, one of the nation's most respected independent health policy research organizations, released a report crediting Governor Blagojevich's administration for sparking a national movement to provide healthcare to all children. The Kaiser Commission also found that Illinois, for the third year in a row, ranks first in the nation for providing healthcare to working parents who need it.

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Text of letter:

Office of the Governor
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Rod R. Blagojevich
Governor

January 31, 2007

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the citizens of Illinois and the 2.2 million Illinoisans who benefit from State healthcare, I am writing to urge you not to cut back federal funding for public hospitals, local health departments, local mental health boards, county nursing homes and other publicly run local health services around our state. Any changes that your Administration wants to make to the federal healthcare funding structure should undergo review and approval by our elected members of Congress. Unfortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recently proposed new rules regarding governmental entities that would seriously undermine their ability to provide healthcare to Illinoisans all across the state and they would do it without approval from Congress.

The impacted entities in Illinois provide vital healthcare services to high Medicaid and uninsured populations, allowing them to continue providing critical services to the community at large. Without the current funding arrangements, these hospitals and other public healthcare providers would be forced to dramatically cut back services or close their doors. It is time for the federal government to recognize the commitment by states around the country to expand healthcare to those who need it, and increase not cut federal support of those efforts.

For the past four years, Illinois has led the nation in expanding access to healthcare to working families in Illinois. Over 500,000 more people in Illinois now have health coverage and can afford to go to the doctor, and under All Kids, every child can now get the healthcare they need. And now, we are working toward expanding healthcare to even more Illinoisans.

But we don't just look out for working families in Illinois. We look out for the doctors, the hospitals, and the nursing homes that take care of our patients. And the proposed cuts by your Administration would represent a serious financial blow of $623 million to hospitals, nursing homes, and other Medicaid providers that serve those who need it most including a loss of up to $235 million to the Cook County Hospital System, which is already facing a serious budget shortfall that will threaten the delivery of services to Chicago's most underserved communities.

It is time for the federal government to reverse course and start supporting those states that are making healthcare a reality for the uninsured. Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time, and I look forward to working with you to help more families access the healthcare they need.

Sincerely,

Rod R. Blagojevich
Governor

cc:

Leslie V. Norwalk, Acting Head, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Illinois Congressional Delegation

(Text copied from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information)

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