A package intended to “rescue” Medicaid in Illinois is going to leave some people behind. Gov. Pat Quinn signed five bills intended to make up a $2.7 billion gap. Dozens of line items within Medicaid are targeted. Provisions to try to eliminate fraud and reduce eligibility are there. And smokers can pay up: the state’s portion of the tax on a pack of cigarettes will more than double, from 98 cents to $1.98.
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“The basic structure of Medicaid is protected. I had to make some tough decisions, but we did that for the common good,” Quinn said today Thursday in Springfield.
One decision was to eliminate the Illinois Cares Rx prescription drug program for seniors.
“We found that one of the big cost drivers of our current Medicaid system is tobacco-related disease; more than $1½ billion a year,” Quinn said in defending the cigarette tax increase. “We can reduce the number of smokers and help people stop smoking.”
Quinn signed the bills this Thursday morning in private before embarking on a daylong tour that celebrated veterans in Peoria, Special Olympians in Springfield, and economic development in Mascoutah.