Medicaid changes are on their way to the governor after a measure providing $1.6 billion in cuts shot through the legislature.  The measure purports to save $240 million by cutting reimbursements to hospitals, though facilities that deal mainly with Medicaid patients would be spared larger cuts. Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Julie Hamos says the rest comes from utilization controls, program cuts and new eligibility rules.

“2.7 million [people on Medicaid] will be going through an annual redetermination process just to make sure, using the newest sophisticated technology, databases, a private vendor… to make sure they’re still eligible for Medicaid."

This measure is part of a plan to save $2.7 billion overall. It won’t take effect unless separate bills, one preventing lawmakers from deferring Medicaid bills to future years and one allowing more Cook County residents to receive care through local and federal dollars, also pass. The former, S.B. 3397, is scheduled for a House committee hearing this morning, the latter, H.B. 5007, passed the legislature Thursday night. 

Then there’s the proposed cigarette tax, which would raise about $700 million to put toward Medicaid costs. This increase, combined with the other cuts and revenue streams, would achieve the necessary $2.7 billion.

“The General Assembly must move quickly to pass legislation to add a dollar a pack to the cost of cigarettes, which – combined with today’s legislation - will achieve the necessary $2.7 billion in savings to rescue Medicaid,” said Gov. Pat Quinn in a statement. 

“Members of the General Assembly should not delay in taking action to reduce our Medicaid burden and access dollar-for-dollar federal matching funds by increasing the price of cigarettes.”

Locally, State Representative Dan Beiser of Alton, Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon, and Paul Evans of O'Fallon supported the bill, as did local State Senator Bill Haine of Alton.

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