Election 2014
5:10 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Illinois' Medical Marijuana Program At Odds With Federal Policy

Judge Ann Callis, who is Democrats' nominee for the the 13th Congressional district, and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, hold a press conference in Springfield Monday.
Credit 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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6:31 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Quinn Lauds Affordable Care Act, Backs Down From State Marketplace

Credit flickr

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.

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Illinois Issues - Past Due
12:00 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Editor's Note: Patients Pay the Price for State's Half-Hearted Embrace of Obamacare

Jamey Dunn
Credit 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.

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3:43 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Audit: Illinois Overdrew Federal Medicaid Dollars

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

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State Week
4:42 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Listen To State Week - June 20, 2014

Credit 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.

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6:56 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Legislative Recap: What Lawmakers Did & Didn't Do

Credit 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:  
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.  

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6:17 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Audit: $12.3M Illinois Medicaid Benefits Paid For Dead

Credit 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.  

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2:34 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

House Votes To Undo Medicaid Cuts On Adult Dental, Podiatry

Credit Karen Roach/

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.

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Budget FY15
1:21 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Arrested Advocates: In-Home Health Services Essential For Independence

Mike Ervin, of Chicago, was arrested and forcibly removed from the Capitol Monday evening when he and other advocates wanted to stage an all-night sit in. Ervin says without an extension of the state's 5 percent income tax, in-home health care could be decimated.
Credit 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.

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Income tax
5:05 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Nursing Home Advocates Call For Income Tax Extension

Credit 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.

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3:36 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Ill. Medicaid Recipients Surge As Adults Find They're Eligible

Credit Karen Roach/

  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.

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7:24 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Illinois Medicaid Paying For The Dead

Credit 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.  

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Budget address
12:08 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Nursing Home Advocates Relieved Over Gov. Quinn's Budget Address

  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.

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Dental practice laws
1:13 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Dental Hygienists Push For Independence; Dentists Push Back

Credit 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.

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Affordable Care Act
7:02 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Young People, Medicaid Concerns As Obamacare Deadline Looms

Credit 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.

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State Week
2:33 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Listen To State Week - December 20, 2013

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.

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Health Desk
6:49 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Public vs. Private Job To Scrub State Medicaid Rolls

Director of Illinois' Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Julie Hamos

  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.

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Health Desk
6:57 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Ill. Medicaid Upgrade To Use Michigan System

DHFS Director Hamos

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

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Affordable Care Act
10:27 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

Crucial Plank Of Obamacare Passes Illinois House

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.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Guest Column: Medicaid, in Fact, is an Important Asset to Illinois

Dr. Edward Pont
Credit 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.


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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun April 1, 2012

Medicaid's Cost: The Illinois Health Care System is Under Examination as Budget Woes Loom

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? And what will be the rate of reimbursement paid to the providers of the service? That’s the whole spectrum of the health care system, and it’s all under examination.”
Credit 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. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue April 1, 2003

Carrot and Stick: The White House wants to lure states to a new Medicaid plan

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.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat September 1, 2001

State of the State: Medicaid is eating up a greater share of the states’ budgets

Aaron Chambers
Credit 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.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue May 1, 2001

Letters: State must provide more funding for Medicaid patients

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?

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu March 1, 2001

What's Next: New federal rules threaten the services of Illinois' largest Medicaid provider

Credit 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.

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