Now that lawmakers have addressed one of the state’s financial problems, it’s time to move on to another. The next problem after pensions is Medicaid, on which the state spends $17 billion a year. That’s too much, says Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), who says the state is trying to weed out Medicaid clients who don’t belong, either because they’re now making more than the income requirements, or they’ve moved out of state.
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Traditionally, applicants are screened for eligibility, but once they’re in the program, there has been little effort to see if they still meet the eligibility requirements. “Since the implementation of that program, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services has made the determination to cancel over 53 percent of the 300,000 cases reviewed to date. There are 3 million Medicaid recipients in Illinois,” Durkin said. Lawmakers last year cut $2.7 billion from the program, but Durkin says there’s more to be found by sniffing out and dropping those who no longer qualify. The state had hired an outside firm, Maximus, to do the work, but an arbitrator ruled that the state is contractually committed to having state employees perform that work. The state is appealing that decision.
In the state’s backlog of unpaid bills that’s in the ballpark of $9 billion, many of those are to medical providers who treated Medicaid patients.