IL one step closer to medicaid expansion

An expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is one step closer in Illinois.

The state Senate passed the expansion 40-19 Thursday. The bill now goes to the House. Nearly 2.8 million Illinois residents are currently covered by Medicaid, the government health program for the poor and disabled.

Starting in 20-14, an estimated 500-thousand to 600-thousand uninsured Illinois residents would be newly eligible for coverage. Senator Heather Steans, a Democrat from Chicago who sponsored the measure, says the expansion would mainly benefit low-income adults who don't have children at home.

"Over 60 percent of these adults are employed, but work at low-wage jobs that don't offer affordable health care coverage. This new access to health care will move them from seeking emergency services in hospitals to obtaining preventative health care and treatment in new care-coordination programs."

People making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $15,400 for an individual, would be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion. The federal government would pay the entire cost of expanding Medicaid the first three years.