Illinois Governor Pat Quinn delivers what been called the state’s “toughest budget yet” this afternoon.
Quinn proposed vast cuts to many facets of government, but none more so than Illinois’ Medicaid program.
“Today we heard a budget that was short on specifics and long on promises. The sad thing was though where it did have specifics they`re coming up short,” says Illinois District 71 Representative Rich Morthland.
One specific raising red flags, Governor Pat Quinn’s suggestion to cut 2.7 billion dollars in state Medicaid funds. Trinity Regional Health System CEO Rick Siedler says a cut that big equates to roughly 18% of the current payments. One of his main concerns is if payments shrink any further physicians may start denying service to under-privileged Medicaid patients.
“All I heard was they’re going to make eligibility more difficult, or at least change the eligibility standards, cut payments to doctors, hospitals, long term healthcare providers and other facilities,” says Siedler.
He adds that the State of Illinois is currently more than 6 months behind on more than 15 million dollars in Medicaid payments to his hospitals. If either of those numbers climb any higher, the many in the healthcare industry fear the worst.
“The 18 percent cut in Medicaid spending is very aggressive and I know the state’s in very difficult but it’s going to be devastating,” says Siedler.
Area legislators say it’s all a sad sign of the times, but drastic cuts to medicaid seem an unavoidable side-effect to decades of overspending in Springfield.
“There`s been a lot of pretty bad decisions made over the last 30 years by Republicans and Democrats alike, House members, Senate members alike. And the chickens have definitely come home to roost,” says District 26 Representative Mike Jacobs.