State News
3:37 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Medicaid expansion law signed

Credit Peoria Public Radio

  Illinois will be able to continue to expand Medicaid, thanks to a new law signed by the governor MONDAY ... even as Republicans say the state is struggling to keep pace with previous growth.  Amanda Vinicky reports.

A couple years back, a bipartisan group of state legislators worked together to scale back Medicaid -- a government-backed program that gives health care coverage to the poor and disabled. Rep. Patti Bellock, a Republican from Hinsdale, says they were tasked with finding a way to save at least $1.6 billion in order to keep it from imploding.

"With the unraveling of some of the reforms, you are going to take away again form the money that we saved that was to go back to help those people."

Bellock says the problem is not so much this new law -- under which Illinois will once again cover recipients' dental and podiatry needs. It's that, on top of Illinois taking too long to verify eligibility for Medicaid, and on top of Illinois allowing another 500,000 people to qualify for the program as part of the Affordable Care Act. There's a log-jam of applicants.