Bill to cut Medicaid spending stalls over 'technical' problems

Bill to cut Medicaid spending stalls over 'technical' problems

SPRINGFIELD — Legislation aimed at chopping more than a billion dollars in spending from the state Medicaid program hit a bump Tuesday when an anticipated hearing in the Illinois House was postponed.

"I'm very optimistic that we're going to have an agreement very shortly but as you know the devil is in the details," said Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago. "There's a lot of moving parts in Medicaid reform. It's over a 500-page Medicaid bill."

She described problems "as technical in nature."

"It's a big piece of legislation. People are going through it to make sure that we've thought things through before we call it," she said. "This is a tough bill. There's a lot of stuff in it."

Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, suggested that some Democrats may be getting cold feet about supporting an expected companion bill for a $1 a pack cigarette tax increase that would generate more than $700 million and negate that much in Medicaid cuts.

"There may be people who want to see more cuts so that we get to that $2.7 billion level without having another tax increase," Righter said.

But Feigenholtz said without the cigarette tax increase, other state programs would have to be cut.

"If we cannot pass the tobacco tax we have a $700 million hole that we're going to have to plug. And it's probably going to come out of education and human services, which would not be good because we're already struggling to core programs in place," she said.

Lawmakers have until the Legislature's scheduled adjournment on May 31 to resolve the Medicaid spending issue and other budget measures.

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rsp wrote on May 23, 2012 at 8:05 am

In other words they don't know what's in the bill or if it will cost more or less in the long run. But the people affected by it? Too bad. Now as for their pay raise? I guess it's still on. It's 500 pages. Which means they don't know what's in it. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Whenever Sen. Dale Righter writes a bill, or supports one; it is important to read the fine print.  The legislators annual pay raise is one of the biggest tricks ever played in politics.  They wrote a law that gives themselves an automatic, annual pay raise unless they vote on a bill to decline the pay raise.  They are so busy every year with the people's business that they do not get around to declining the pay raise.  They have declined the pay raise in the past when there was enough public outrage; but they never abolished the law that created the corruption.