Illinois Senate Democrats unveiled a budget proposal late last week, but it still hinges on one outstanding variable: savings to the Medicaid program. Lawmakers are heading into the end of May full steam, and they say months of closed-door meetings and negotiations will this week produce a plan to close a gap of $2.7 billion in Medicaid.
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State Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) says it’s unfeasible to cut that much. “The only other state that cut $2 billion out of [its] budget was the state of New York,” he says. “The State of New York has a Medicaid budget of $54 billion. Ours is only $14 billion.” A plan could surface that will cut about $1.6 billion through program cuts, lower hospital reimbursements and other means. The other $1.1 billion could come from a cigarette tax increase, more federal money and fund sweeps. Lawmakers are confident the savings will be achieved. Otherwise they’ll have to go back and cut more out of other areas of the state budget.