The State of Illinois has sought ways to curb it’s deficit, but few have actually proven to be real reforms that lower costs while empowering patients.
One attempt to reduce the state’s Medicaid debt was to increase the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack, and use that increase to supplement Medicaid costs.
Yet, according to a Research & Commentary written by John Nothdurft, Director of Government Relations and Budget and Tax Specialist at The Heartland Institute, this will not be of much help.
“Such an increase fails to address the structural problems of the Medicaid program and would disproportionately burden low- and moderate-income Illinoisans and create numerous unintended consequences. The continuing need for new revenue sources shows the real problem in Springfield is inefficiency and lack of spending restraint, not insufficiently high taxes.”
And while many within the state legislature continue to advocate against the implementation of the federal health law, Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed legislation that would actually quicken its implementation.
The bill includes drastic Medicaid payment rate cuts, eliminates Illinois Cares Rx, a state program that helps approximately 200,000 of Illinois’ elderly get prescription medication, and expands Medicaid eligibility per Obamacare requirements.
Not only does this action endorse the federal health law but, according to John Stephen of the Illinois Policy Institute, it will increase costs. Therefore, in a press release, the Institute proposes other reforms such as “enforcing Medicaid eligibility rules, implementing case review, intensive case management and care coordination for high-cost cases, and aggressively managing the use of pharmaceutical drugs, which includes expanding the use of generic drugs.”
According to Stephen:
“Instead of cutting rates, cost-shifting and expanding a program that is already unsustainable – which will raise the cost of health insurance for all and cost taxpayers – Illinois should look to other states’ efforts and bring innovation and best practices to Medicaid. All states need to reform Medicaid so that it is a 21st century program available to those who are truly eligible and truly in need of quality services.”
A vote in the House on Gov. Quinn’s bill is expected on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.