Government
5:00 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Quinn Signs Bill Restoring Medicaid Cuts

Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation to restore Medicaid cuts made two years ago to save money.

In 2012, Illinois cut funding for adult dental and podiatry services as part of a broader Medicaid overhaul.

But supporters of the restoration say instead, people wound up in the emergency room, which cost the state more money. Quinn says Illinois needs an integrated system, that focuses on "wellness."

"We want to make sure that we prevent bad things, whenever possible, so people are not having to pay enormous amounts of money to deal with life threatening diseases, and chronic ailments that we could have dealt with earlier," Quinn said.

But Republicans have expressed concerns about sustaining services during a difficult budget year.

Rep. Patti Bellock, a Republican from Hinsdale, says when they approved the initial cuts, they were tasked with finding a way to save at least $1.6 billion in order to keep it from imploding.

"With the unraveling of some of the reforms, you are going to take away again form the money that we saved that was to go back to help those people," Bellock said.

Bellock says the main concern is that on top of Illinois taking too long to verify eligibility for Medicaid, and on top of Illinois allowing another 500,000 people to qualify for the program as part of the Affordable Care Act, there's a log-jam of applicants.

But Democrats say Illinois will save money in the long run.  They say it's better than people resorting to more expensive emergency room care.  And the federal government's helping the state pay for many new enrollees.

Medicaid is a state and federal program that pays medical expenses for the poor and disabled.