Ill. House and Senate pass Medicaid Bill

By WEEK Producer

May 24, 2012 Updated May 25, 2012 at 10:30 AM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois House and Senate have approved sweeping cuts to the Illinois Medicaid program and sent the package on to the Governor.

As passed, there would be $1.4 billion less spent on care for the poor. Backers of the measure say they expect a savings of $488 million a year.

Medicaid reform backers say there are 300,000 people receiving benefits who don't meet income guidelines, aren't Illinois residents or no longer meet age requirements for the "All-Kids" program.

The state will pay 2.7-percent less to Medicaid providers, including hospitals. So called "safety net" hospitals, which serve a high number of the poor, are exempt from the cuts.

A $10 co-pay for emergency room visits will be imposed. Payments to nursing home residents with low needs will be cut by 10-percent. Payments to those resident's nursing homes will be cut by 1.7 percent. This will save, it's said, $240 million.

Governor Quinn has released a statement saying this is "the first step toward saving Medicaid for those that rely upon it."

He then called on the General Assembly to quickly to pass legislation to add a dollar a pack to the cost of cigarettes and increase the taxes on other tobacco products. Those new tobacco taxes will bring in an additional $700 million a year.

The House and Senate resume their session Friday.

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