Medicaid

Overgrown Tinley Park Mental Health Care Center sign
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Dawn Kelly takes seven medications daily to treat her bipolar disorder. She has been on the meds since her 2011 diagnosis. Had it not been for a switch over from one Medicaid plan to another, the 40-year-old mother, who lives in East Peoria, would likely be dead.

Amanda Vinicky

As Illinois begins to allow people with certain diseases to use cannabis as medicine, the state will be running afoul of federal law.

It may be spring before patients will be able to buy medical marijuana (the application process is going on now). Whenever it happens, the state will be in tricky territory: the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal drug.

That raises challenges, like: can an business in the cannabis industry deposit money in federally-regulated banks?

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In recognition of the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Pat Quinn is touting its success, while at the same time backing away from having Illinois take a greater role in the program.

At first, Gov. Quinn was all about Illinois creating its own "exchange" -- a technical word for the portal where people can shop for coverage.

Instead, insurance companies and healthcare advocates couldn't agree on how to set one up. Timid lawmakers, afraid to look like they were embracing Obamacare ahead of the 2012 election, didn't help either.

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 It’s no secret that many Illinois Democrats have been reluctant to throw their full support behind President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. And Republicans at the state level are not going to get behind a law that their party counterparts in the U.S. House have voted dozens of times to repeal. As a result, those seeking insurance in the state have been handed a mixed bag of policy.

Federal auditors have found that Illinois used faulty methods
for withdrawing federal Medicaid money, resulting in overdraws the state later
had trouble repaying.
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General
released the report Monday.
 
The report says Illinois created ``a perpetual `treadmill effect''' as it
continued to overdraw and repay later.
 
The state's withdrawals exceeded its spending by an average of $60 million per

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Citizen initiatives on redistricting and term limits are facing challenges on their way toward inclusion on the November ballot.  Governor Quinn signs legislation undoing cuts to the Medicaid program.  Also, Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam loses his bid to join the House leadership team in Washington D.C.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't:  
     BILLS SENT TO GOV. PAT QUINN:  
Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.  

wuis

An Illinois audit is providing details about the $12.3 million that the state's Medicaid program paid for medical care for people who were dead.  
Auditor General William Holland released the report Thursday. The Associated Press first reported on the overpayments last month.  

Karen Roach/iStockphoto.com

The Illinois House has voted to undo a series of cuts in the state's program of health care for the poor. Backers of the change say the cuts have come with a significant cost.

 Two years ago, Democrats and Republicans agreed to massive reductions in the Medicaid program, with savings estimated at greater than $2 billion. Now Democrats say some of those cuts are costing more than they're worth.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  As the Illinois General Assembly considers a so-called "middle of the road" budget for next year, some programs could be cut or reduced to make up for the expiration of the 20-11 income-tax hike. Advocates for people with disabilities say a reduction could be catastrophic for that population.

One of the biggest parts of Illinois' budget is Medicaid, which not only provides health care to the poor, but also to those with disabilities. Those who can live independently usually elect to with the help of in-home health service.

WUIS

  Advocates for nursing homes say if Illinois does not keep income tax rates where they are, thousands of seniors could lose access to care. But it's not yet clear whether the General Assembly will make the tax hike permanent.

Lawmakers have a little less than a month to pass a budget for the next fiscal year -- a budget that nursing homes rely on to subsidize their operations.

Advocates say if the state's income tax is allowed to roll back as scheduled at the end of the year, nursing homes are projected to take a 14 percent funding cut.

Karen Roach/iStockphoto.com

  Illinois officials are dealing with a surge of new patients in the Medicaid program. It's part of last month's rush of people seeking coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

For the first time, low-income adults without children are eligible for government health coverage.

In Illinois, officials expect that'll mean 350,000 new people in Medicaid. And that's not all.

Julie Hamos, director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, says the news reports and advertising and community outreach around the Obamacare deadline led to a separate spike.

Ill. Atty General

Gov. Pat Quinn is promising tighter controls after a review found that the Illinois Medicaid program paid an estimated $12 million for medical services for people who were dead.  

Quinn told reporters Saturday he's not happy with the findings and the state is on track to recoup all of the money.  

The Associated Press learned of the mistakes from an internal state government memo it obtained Friday through the Freedom of Information Act.  

  Nursing home advocates say they're relieved by Gov. Pat Quinn's budget address last week. The governor says state has already been cut enough.

Two years ago, Gov. Quinn announced drastic cuts to Medicaid, the state's healthcare program for the poor, disabled and elderly. Medicaid helps pay for nursing homes, so when the legislature followed through on these cuts, many facilities shut down or laid off workers.

Pat Comstock, with the Healthcare Council of Illinois, says these cuts persisted through last year. But this year, she says things are looking brighter.

flickr/armymedicine

  Dental hygienists in Illinois could get a whole new job description under a proposal before the Illinois House. Hygienists say requiring less supervision would allow them to provide care in underserved communities.

opensource on Flickr

  With one week left to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, Illinois' enrollment numbers are on track to meet their goals. But, many newly covered Illinoisans aren't actually buying private insurance.

About 114,000 people in Illinois have bought insurance under Obamacare. But 200,000 more have been signed up for Medicaid, the state's healthcare program for the poor.

Although the number of Medicaid enrollees is larger than the pool of people who've bought insurance, officials say they're not worried.

This week's topics include Governor Quinn's agreement with AFSCME on how to cull Medicaid rolls, a change to how the state will accept concealed carry applications, and Archer Daniel Midland's decision to keep its corporate HQ in Illinois.

Illinois.gov

  Illinois' attempts to remove ineligible people from the state's Medicaid rolls are on hold, as Illinois and its largest public employees' union fight over who should actually do the scrubbing. The state says it will appeal a ruling that says it has to cancel its $77 million dollar contract with an outside firm.

Big changes are ahead for Medicaid, the state's health insurance program for the poor. Hundreds of thousands of residents are expected to be added to the rolls under the federal health care law.

But first, Illinois wants to remove people who are ineligible.

Ill. Medicaid Upgrade To Use Michigan System

Aug 5, 2013
ilga.gov

State officials have announced an interstate partnership with Michigan to update Illinois' outdated Medicaid information management system.

In the waning days of its legislative session, Illinois took a major step toward implementing President Barack Obama's signature health care program.   That Democrats, who hold solid majorities in the General Assembly, waited until this late in the session is telling.

Dr. Edward Pont
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Because of the controversies surrounding expected cuts to Illinois’ Medicaid program during this year’s legislative session, Illinois Issues is publishing this guest column by Dr. Edward Pont, a pediatrician who is a member of Gov. Pat Quinn’s Medicaid Advisory Committee. The magazine’s publication of this column does not indicate either endorsement or rejection of Dr. Pont’s ideas. Executive Editor Dana Heupel’s Editor’s Note column will return in the July-August issue.

  Change.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, spoke about Medicaid on public television’s Illinois Lawmakers: “Boiling it down in more simple terms … who are the people that are eligible? How much of it will they get? How often will they get it?
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The thought of this spring’s legislative session going into summer overtime was greeted by groans from members of the General Assembly. During his budget address in February, Gov. Pat Quinn told lawmakers they can’t go home until they pass comprehensive Medicaid reform. Now, they face the daunting task of cutting $2.7 billion in Medicaid spending growth from the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. 

States call President George W. Bush’s Medicaid plan the carrot-and-stick approach to state-federal relations. They could take the carrot, but they dread a swift whack from the stick.

The White House envisions tidy administration of health care for the poor. If states get their programs in order, the administration contends, then there’s no whack to fear.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Medicaid expenses are booming. Illinois lawmakers know that. Now they know other states are dealing with the same problem.

At the National Conference of States Legislatures’ annual meeting last month in San Antonio, legislators from all 50 states learned they’re in the same boat. Across the board, Medicaid is eating up a greater share of the states’ budgets. And the end is nowhere in sight.

In Tony Cappasso's article in your Spotlight on Medicaid series ("Why costs have gone up," March, page 28), Ann Patia, the former director of the Illinois Department of Public Aid, makes an astounding assumption. She seems to imply that by cutting Medicaid payments to hospitals earlier this year, the department was able to "control Medicaid spending without hurting Medicaid patients." Does Ms. Patia really believe it is possible to neglect the institutions that provide essential medical and social services to Medicaid patients without hurting the patients themselves?

Mike Cramer

For more than a century. Cook County Hospital has served poor residents of Illinois' most urban and populous county.

Many of those patients have nowhere else to go.