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Last month (May 2012) 5 Illinois Republican RINO (Republicans In Name Only) Senators and 11 Illinois Republican RINO Representatives implemented Obamacare in Illinois nearly 2 years early and only weeks away from a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. The two pieces of legislation that were passed were SB2840 and it’s amendments as well as HB5007. Together, these bills comprise what Governor Quinn refers to as “Medicaid Reform”.
Since these bills were passed some of the RINOs pictured above have been attempting to justify supporting Governor Quinn’s “Medicaid Reform” because, and I quote, “what we did was mostly good”. This being the case, I am going to outline what they are referring to as “mostly good” as well as the bad and the ugly too. First, the “mostly good”.
The GOOD: SB2840 mandates a TPA (Third Party Administrator) to verify each year if current recipients of our Illinois Medicaid program are still living in Illinois, still living at all, (not dead) and if their income levels have changed. This is a very good thing since a pharmacist from another state recently stated during testimony that “some of our best customers are on the Illinois Medicaid program.” The majority of other Medicaid programs in other states already have a TPA that verifies continued eligibility each and every year. In fact, this is normal protocol. Unless of course, you live in the bankrupt state of Illinois that consistently operates within that strange euphoric realm where fiscal reality does not exist. This realm is more commonly known as “Hope & Change” land. Where new ‘revenue’ is obtained via ever increasing taxation or by snagging matching funds from the U.S. Treasury, where ‘new revenue’ is also obtained via ever increasing taxation. Or it is simply printed and/or borrowed from the Red Chinese…but I digress.
The BAD: Sadly there is no legislation pending or even being discussed to remove the 77,000 illegal aliens who are currently still receiving benefits on our Illinois Medicaid program. These illegal aliens were enrolled illegally, whilst pandering for votes, by our now incarcerated former Governor Rod Blagoyevich. In fact, thanks to the Chicago Tribune, we now know that 75% of the recipients on our “All Kids Covered” Medicaid program in 2010 were in this country illegally.
The GOOD: SB2840 cuts $1.6 billion from our Illinois Medicaid program and amendment SB3397 prevents the State from rolling over Medicaid bills for one fiscal year to the next.
The BAD: Our Illinois Medicaid program already has unpaid bills piling up after lawmakers enacted a budget pushing $2.4 Billion of last year’s bills into this year. As they have been doing repeatedly for years now. In fact, on January 30, 2012, the Civic Federation released its “Budget Roadmap” for fiscal year 2012. In it, they highlight the fact that state officials now believe the Medicaid program will have between $21 and $23 billion in unpaid bills by 2017. This being the case, a $1.6 billion cut may seem like good ‘reform’ but when one is faced with this harsh reality. This cut becomes equivalent to placing a band aid on a gun shot wound.
Removing the 77,000 Illegal Aliens off of our Illinois Medicaid program and implementing real reforms such as these proposed by the Illinois Policy Institute will save us a lot more money. Until these reforms are implemented, Illinois Medicaid patients will continue to suffer from low reimbursement rates and long payment delays. Nursing homes and hospitals are running out of time and money while they wait for reimbursement. Doctors are turning away poor patients or making them wait weeks or months or even longer to receive care, just to keep their doors open.
The GOOD: SB2840 implements a $10 co pay for emergency room visits, a $3.60 co-pay for other outpatient services, and a $2 co-pay for generic drugs which will be limited to 4 per month without physician certification, and it eliminates Chiropractic services.
The BAD: This impotent approach at ‘cost sharing’ is an absolute joke. Do these legislators really think that this tiny co pay will lead to Medicaid recipients using our Medicaid program less? On the contrary. In fact, the only way to reduce over usage of our Medicaid program is to implement some real ‘cost sharing’ that resembles reality. Much like Governor Mitch Daniels did when he reformed Indiana’s Medicaid program. Now known as “Healthy Indiana”. How did he do it without robbing the U.S. Treasury? Simple, by implementing Consumer Driven Tax Qualified health insurance options. More specifically HSA’s – Health Savings Accounts. Of course, this type of intelligent reform did not sit well with the Obama administration and Governor Daniels was denied a much needed ‘waiver’ on November 11, 2011. Click here to read all about Governor Daniel’s real Medicaid reforms.
to begin implementing the massive expansion of Medicaid as mandated in the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”). By massive expansion of Medicaid, I mean, among other things, the ability to enroll in the new State and Federally subsidized “Obamacare health insurance exchange” where children women and men who have an annual income of less than 185% above the Federal Poverty level will now have access to ‘free’ to nearly ‘free’ health insurance coverage. And where will they get the ‘start up capital’ to begin the implementation of this shiny new ‘Obamacare health insurance exchange’? That’s right! You guessed it. A $700 million new tax hike on smokers!
The BAD: Amendment SB2194 imposes a new $1 per pack tax on cigarettes. Keep puffing smokers! Vice President Joe Biden salutes you for doing your ‘Patriotic Duty’! By the way, did you know that if the U.S. Supreme Court does not strike down Obamacare it will cost the state of Illinois $10 billion by the year 2020. Chump change in Illinois, the fully compliant land and regretful birth place of ‘Hope & Change’.
The REALLY UGLY: SB3261. In 2008, the Illinois Attorney General and Illinois Hospital Association collaborated in the enactment of the Hospital “Uninsured Patient Discount Act”, which requires hospitals to provide discounts for people of certain income levels. SB3261 amends that 2008 law to require hospitals to provide medically necessary ‘free’ medical care to individuals with family incomes of up to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines in urban areas and up to 125% of the federal poverty guidelines in rural areas. That is $46,100 for a family of four in urban areas and $28,800 for a family of four in rural areas. Keep in mind, that this includes all‘medically necessary’ care. Not justemergency care.
Let me just copy and paste a part of SB3261 below and after you read it, ask yourself. What impetus will an Illinois family with annual income less than $46,100 have to purchase or maintain health insurance coverage ever again in Illinois? When this amendment puts 100% of all of their ‘medically necessary’ bills on the backs of the tax payer from this point forward? Keep in mind that the wording below applies to ALL Hospitals in Illinois.
(210 ILCS 88/17 new)
(2) A hospital, other than a rural hospital or Critical Access Hospital, shall provide a charitable discount of 100% of its charges for all medically necessary health care services exceeding $300 in any one inpatient admission or outpatient encounter to any uninsured patient who applies for a discount and has family income of not more than 200% of the federal poverty income guidelines. That is $46,100 for a family of 4 in 2012.
The above bills and their amendments are what Illinois RINO’s refer to as ‘mostly good’.
Yours in Liberty,
C. Steven Tucker