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.