New Report: Illinois Medicaid Cuts Could Cost Illinois 25,000 Jobs

(Springfield, IL) – Two health-care advocacy groups are predicting thousands of job losses and billions of dollars in economic damage to Illinois, if Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to conjure $2.7 billion in savings from the Medicaid program is implemented.

Quinn’s plan would jeopardize 25,615 jobs and cost the state’s economy $3.2 billion, according to a report released Wednesday by the Illinois Hospital Association, which lobbies for Illinois hospitals, and the Campaign for Better Health Care, an organization that advocates for health-care access

“Drastic Medicaid cuts hurt everyone, not just the Medicaid patients. Hospitals will be forced to reduce jobs. Local businesses will be impacted,” Illinois Hospital Association President Maryjane Wurth said.

“And hospitals will be forced to cut or eliminate medical services that everyone uses — there is not a separate set of staff, equipment and facilities just for Medicaid patients.”

Quinn’s proposal reduces the amount Medicaid providers get paid by $675 million, accounting for 25 percent of the $2.7 billion in savings.

Nearly every dollar of the $6.6 billion the state spends on Medicaid goes to providers. Cutting provider reimbursement’s by $675 million translates into an across the board rate reduction of 7 percent to 9 percent for providers, according to Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan.

Callahan said that in the end it wouldn’t be a blanket rate cut. Some providers would see rates reduced by more than 9 percent, while others might avoid a rate cut all together.

“That still is something that’s being worked out,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. “These are tough choices, but the reality is that (the) entire Medicaid system will collapse, which would be far worse, if we do nothing.”

Continue reading

Illinois’ Unpaid Bills Could Top $34 Billion in 5 Years

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ difficulties reining in its pension costs are expected to pale in comparison to its efforts to control Medicaid, the state’s other big expense.

A new report released Monday from the Civic Federation, a Chicago-based nonpartisan policy group that focuses on state spending, predicts Illinois’ Medicaid costs will skyrocket over the next five years.

Laurence Msall, federation president, said lawmakers and governors have spent Illinois into a deep hole by expanding Medicaid, which provides health-care coverage to low-income families.

“What is most frightening is that even after the income tax, the state was not able to pass a budget to fully fund Medicaid,” Msall said, referring to a 67 percent personal income tax increase and a 48 percent corporate income tax increase in January 2011.

But even with that additional revenue, Illinois lawmakers still had to pay more than $1 billion in 2011 Medicaid bills.

Continue reading

Illinois Lawmakers OK Funding to Keep Illinois Prisons, Mental Health Facilities Open

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ seven endangered prisons and mental health facilities will stay open for at least the next six months after lawmakers gave Gov. Pat Quinn the power to shift nearly $300 million inside the state budget.

But more importantly, lawmakers also said they sent the governor this clear message: He must not threaten to close state facilities to get what he wants from the state budget.

Lawmakers on Tuesday approved this new spending authority for Quinn. The House approved it with a 92-20 vote and the Senate with a 50-5 vote.

The money, which was taken from Illinois’ regional superintendents, school transportation accounts and the Medicaid budget by delaying payment on more Medicaid bills, will keep the seven sites open through the end of June.

Continue reading

Illinois Tax Revenue Jumped from $1.9 Billion in August 2010 to $2.2 Billion Last Month

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois Personal income tax revenue jumped by 68 percent for last month when compared with the same time in 2010, almost mirroring the personal income tax increase of 67 percent approved in January, according to a report issued by the Legislature’s Commission on Government Accountability and Forecasting, or COGFA, this week.

Overall, the state’s revenue jumped from $1.9 billion in August 2010 to $2.2 billion last month, an increase of 13 percent.

However, focusing on the month-to-month numbers won’t give an accurate picture of the state’s fiscal health, said Jim Muschinske, COGFA’s revenue manager and author of the August revenue report that outlines Illinois’ finances.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, and I don’t get excited over one month. There is just too much that happens on a month-by-month basis,” Muschinske said.

For example, income tax receipts from July through December, or the first half of fiscal 2012, might show big gains compared to last year. But those increases are only because of the income tax increase, and not because the state’s workforce or economy is doing better, according to the COGFA report.

The state also got a one-time shot of $73 million relating to the selling of a permit for and opening of the state’s 10th riverboat casino this summer in Des Plaines.

Higher revenue for August flowed in despite the state collecting less money from the federal government. The end of the federal stimulus package and the state’s extension on paying its social service vendors caused a decline of federal funding by $264 million, or 66 percent less, to $135 million last month compared with $399 million last August.

Continue reading

New Illinois Budget Not Settled Gov. Pat Quinn Says

(Springfield, IL) – Gov. Pat Quinn may sign the 2012 state budget Thursday, but the spending plan is not a one-and-done deal.

“The budget is an on-going process,” said Quinn. “We have to work on it 365 days of the fiscal year.”

Quinn, who introduced a nearly $36 billion budget, said he is not happy with the $33.4 billion spending plan that Illinois lawmakers sent him, and he wants more spending in education and human services.

But while Quinn can shift around money in the budget, he cannot order more spending, said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

“The governor has some limitations when he is acting on the budget,” said Feigenholtz. ”He cannot add. He can only (order) line-item reductions.”

But Feigenholtz, who helped write the human services portion of the state budget, said Quinn “should come back to the Legislature to ask us for more” money this fall. And Quinn agreed.

“There may be some legislators that want to revisit certain areas (of the budget),” said Quinn. “I think it’s really imperative that legislators not say, ‘We did something in the spring,’ and that’s the last word.”

Continue reading

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka Racing to Pay $1.8 Billion in Illinois Medicaid Bills by June 30

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday approved a plan to delay a $365 million payment into Illinois’ rainy day fund, and instead use that money to pay some of the billions of dollars Illinois owes to Medicaid providers.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said the state is racing to maximize a federal Medicaid match that expires at the end of the month. Illinois is getting 57 cents on the dollar for qualifying Medicaid bills that it pays this month. Starting in July, that rate falls back to the normal 50 cents on the dollar.

Maximizing the $365 million, Topinka said, should allow her to pay $1.85 billion in Medicaid bills by June 30. She estimates Illinois could receive an extra $90 million to $100 million from the federal government.

“The Medicaid match did not solve all of our problems, but is sure as heck helped,” said Topinka. “And come the 30th of June, we lose that help, and we’ll be out there on our own.”

The Medicaid match not only ensured Illinois a better return on health-care costs, but along with the federal stimulus, doctors, hospitals and long-term care centers were paid within 30 days. State Sen Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, said that starting in July, those payments will take three months or longer to pay.

Continue reading

Gov. Pat Quinn Is “Reviewing” Illinois Budget Impact on Illinois Human Services, Aide Says

(Springfield, IL) — June 1, 2011. Illinois’ new budget may spend less than Gov. Pat Quinn’s original proposal, but it is higher than this past year’s budget and was balanced by delaying the payment of billions of dollars in unpaid bills until this current fiscal year.

“The governor has been clear … that while we put our fiscal house in order, we must continue to protect core priorities,” said Kelly Kraft, Quinn’s budget spokeswoman.

Quinn is “reviewing” the budget’s impact on human services and schools statewide, Kraft said, which were among those items lawmakers trimmed to reduce spending from Quinn’s $36 billion to $33.2 billion.

Continue reading