Posted tagged ‘Illinois Statehouse News’

Gov. Pat Quinn Proposed Illinois Medicaid Cuts to Cost Illinois Economy $3.2 Billion, Report Says

April 26, 2012

(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.”

Anderson pointed out that Quinn’s plan actually doesn’t seek $2.7 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program. Instead, it calls for:

  • Cutting $2 billion in services and what Medicaid providers are paid,
  • Raising the state’s cigarette tax by a dollar, from 98 cents to $1.98.

The tax hike is expected to yield $337.5 million, plus a federal match of $337.5 million for that tax increase, all of which would cover the rising cost of Medicaid, according to Quinn’s office.

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As Illinois Medicaid Costs Grow, State Rep. Patti Bellock Says Federal Government Blocking Illinois Changes

January 31, 2012

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ difficulties reining in its pension costs are expected to pale in comparison to its efforts to control Medicaid costs.

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.

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Illinois Taxpayers Gave State Government a $1.2-billion Shot of Cash in August

September 9, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Taxpayers gave Illinois a $1.2-billion shot of cash in August, or $464 million more than last August.

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.

For the entire fiscal year, the state will lose about $1 billion in federal funding, Muschinske said. Under the federal stimulus, for every $2 the state spent on Medicaid, the federal government kicked in $1.20. But that extra 20 cents has been phased out, along with the strings attached to it.

“What happened under the stimulus plan was that the federal government said ‘we’ll give you the higher matching rates, but in order to qualify, you are going to have to pay (social service) providers in 30 days. That’s far quicker that we’ve ever paid before,” Muschinske said.

“Now that the match is gone, part of the way to manage our resources was the decision to allow approximately $1 billion in bills to be pushed back and the payment cycled moved to more historic levels” of 60 to 90 days, he said.

The state now has overdue bills from social service providers, schools and others totaling $3.8 billion, said Brad Hahn, spokesman for the state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s Office.

Legislators, when crafting the $33-billion operating budget for the state, said that any extra revenue would go toward paying off the state’s backlog of bills.

However, Gov. Pat Quinn has said the budget sent to him doesn’t contain enough spending to operate at least 12 state agencies through the end of the fiscal year.

Andrew Thomason, Illinois Statehouse News

Will Governor Pat Quinn Sign Illinois Budget on Thursday?

June 28, 2011

(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.

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As Federal Medicaid Aid Ebbs, Illinois Aims to Pay $1.8 Billion in Bills by June 30

June 23, 2011

(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.”

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Quinn Witholds Judgment on Illinois Budget Approved by Lawmakers which Spends $2 Billion than Governor’s Plan

June 1, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — June 1, 2011. The new Illinois 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 Illinois 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.

House Democratic budget architect Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said the new spending priorities include Illinois’ $4 billion pension payment.

The budget “for the first time doesn’t hide the true costs of state government by taking the pensions off budget,” said Mautino. “We’re making all of our pension payments, which for the past three years we’ve had to borrow” to fund.

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Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s Opposition to Legislative Efforts to Pay State Bills to Hospitals, Schools, Vendors Draws Criticism

May 24, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois’ treasurer cannot stop lawmakers from borrowing billions to pay the state’s backlog of unpaid bills, but he can make it more expensive — and that’s exactly what Dan Rutherford says  he plans to do.

Rutherford on Monday said he cannot support adding to Illinois burgeoning debt.

The first-term Republican treasurer released his own report that states Illinois total debt would cost every household in the state $42,000. Rutherford arrived at the number by adding Illinois’ $140 billion in unfunded pension and health-care liabilities, the state’s $45 billion bond debt, and the nearly $8 billion in unpaid bills.

The treasurer said lawmakers must cut spending and live within their means in order for Illinois to pay off the debt.

“You can’t borrow anymore money,” said Rutherford. “And if I need to send letters to the rating companies to tell them the treasurer of Illinois is opposed to any more borrowing, I’ll go ahead and do that.”

Rutherford said alerting national rating agencies and bond houses could make it more expensive for Illinois to borrow. He said hopes that step would give lawmakers pause before asking for a billion dollars.

And while the state’s treasurer can only stop short-term borrowing, lawmakers are maneuvering to pass a measure through the General Assembly that would bypass any authority Rutherford has.

“I don’t have a vote on (the Senate plan),” said Rutherford. “If it’s long term, I can’t stop it.”

State Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, said Republican and Democratic lawmakers must approve any borrowing, and Rutherford’s approach to handling Illinois’ massive pile of unpaid bills bothers him.

“Right now we’re using school districts, universities, private companies and health-care providers — we’re using them as our credit card,” said Sullivan. “They’re carrying that debt for us.”
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