By Dan Proft
Despite being the largest line item in the state budget, Illinois’ Medicaid program is not a sexy topic.
Most Illinoisans have the good fortune to not have to rely on the program for quality health care services.
But if you are a pregnant woman with limited means, an indigent child, a needy senior or a person with a developmental disability, you are not so lucky.
Truly vulnerable individuals promised access to quality health care under the state’s Medicaid program are not so lucky because Illinois runs a Medicaid system it cannot finance.
The state passes its insolvency on to Medicaid providers by not paying for services rendered, creating a fraternity of former Medicaid providers and thereby reducing access to quality health care for the very people the Springfield ruling class purports to serve.
That not-so-lucky group currently represents 1 in 5 Illinoisans, including more than half of all women who gave birth to a child last year.
The not-so-lucky group is expected to expand to as many as 1 in 3 Illinoisans as Governor Quinn moves quickly to implement the Obamacare-driven Medicaid expansion and solidify Illinois’ reputation as the national leader in financially catastrophic policy decisions.
The Chicago Democrats lording over Illinois are forever looking to add to the ranks of Illinoisans whose ailments they pronounced cured by their homeopathic good intentions.
Yet, thanks to Republican state legislators, there is hope for those whose real needs are invoked to expand a state government from which they have received illusory benefits.
For years Republicans advocated a redetermination of the state’s Medicaid rolls to remove individuals who do not meet the qualifications for Medicaid coverage under state law.
So while Governor Quinn has been consulting with Wile E. Coyote and the ACME corporation on constructing the Obamacare state health exchange (remember Squeezy the Python is busy with pensions), an outside contractor retained by the state has begun poring over the state’s Medicaid rolls.
As the Chicago Tribune reported last week, of the first roughly 20,000 recipients reviewed, two-thirds were found to currently enjoy illegitimate access to state-subsidized health care services.
Legislative Republicans have been wary of touting this initial finding despite the prospect of billions of dollars in annual savings for Illinois taxpayers for fear of being portrayed as taking away health care coverage at the same time Governor Quinn is working to extend coverage to more and more Illinoisans.
Republicans (and responsible Democrats) should fear not for they are the ambassadors of both compassion and accountability.
Drawing lines is what adults do. Not everyone is similarly situated. Resources are finite. What Republicans have done by pushing this redetermination is effectively say, let us make sure we serve those truly in need through no fault of their own and necessarily call on those who can provide for themselves to do so.
The alternative is Governor Quinn’s model where politicians make promises they know they cannot keep and Illinois winds up in the unconscionable position of 51st out of the 50 states (behind even the District of Columbia) when it comes to providing services to persons with developmental disabilities.
Your choice, Illinois taxpayers, do you want to see the truly vulnerable served in Illinois or do you want to see them continue to be scammed?