Despite looming challenges, Illinois’ governor says the state must cut $2.7 billion from its Medicaid budget.Gov. Pat Quinn decided on that number after a Civic Federation report outlined how much debt the system would accrue without drastic action. Quinn says the Medicaid work group, made up of lawmakers, is figuring out what can and cannot be cut.
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“We’ve made a list of things that are not federally required,” he says. “We’ve submitted that list to the General Assembly and they’re working through that.” On the list are optional services, such as adult dental care and prescription drug coverage – programs that aren’t federally required but are widely used. Recent testimony from a national Medicaid expert indicated provisions in the Affordable Care Act would make it difficult to achieve $2.7billion in savings. Julie Hamos, director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which oversees Medicaid, says the report doesn’t specify where savings can be found.“The Civic Federation didn’t talk about just cuts to get to that number, they also talked about possible new funding sources,” she says.“It’s just too early to be considering what else could be considered, so we have been asked to put everything on the table.”
Hamos says $2.7 billion must be saved this year, as even with those savings the state will still face $1.8 billion in unpaid bills at the end of the next fiscal year. The legislative work group has until the third week of April to submit its proposal.