Illinois will soon be scrutinizing the list of people on Medicaid to make sure they still qualify. But the eligibility checks won't begin until next year. That's led Republicans to say the Quinn administration is moving too slowly.
The eligibility checks are a key component of a larger effort to cut more than a billion dollars in spending on health care for the poor, elderly and disabled. There are estimates that as many as 300,000 people have continued getting Medicaid benefits even though they no longer qualify.
Republicans warn that if the administration doesn't cut them off more quickly, deeper cuts could be necessary. Senator Dale Righter, a Republican from Mattoon, says he's not sure whether the pace is a question of competence or ideology.
"I think that you have people in Governor Quinn's office who don't want to do these things" Righter said.
Mike Claffey is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. He says that claim is totally false.
"We worked with folks on both sides of the aisle in a bipartisan process because we thought it was important to give the public confidence in the integrity of the program. We thought that's very important" Claffey said.
The state hired a company last week to carry out the eligibility checks, ahead of the law's deadline. But Claffey says it'll take time to create a call center, hire employees and train them to deal with Illinois' protocols.
He also says the projection that 300,000 people might be ineligible is "aggressive," and it remains to be seen how much money can be saved.