Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock (R-18) says a provision of the Affordable Care Act prevents Illinois from enacting serious Medicaid reform. That provision prevents states from reducing benefits or tightening requirements to qualify for Medicaid.
The House has passed a measure to repeal that provision.
Schock says, “They (federal government) have Illinois trapped right now in a situation where they can't reduce their budget deficit, reduce their spending.”
Illinois lawmakers are heading into the home stretch of their 2012 session. But they still need to approve a budget before they can adjourn.
They've been working for months to try figuring out how they can cut two of the state's biggest expenses: pensions and Medicaid.
Some lawmakers are not pleased with the pace.
"Well, why would you be concerned? We've got two and a half weeks left. We've got all the time in the world to fix our problems here in the state of Illinois,” remarked Representative Joe Lyons (D-Chicago).
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said it's time for state lawmakers to "step forward" and rescue the state's Medicaid system, even if requires some painful decisions.
The Democratic governor wants lawmakers to approve his plan for filling a $2.7 billion hole in the system. It includes reducing services for the poor, cutting payments to health-care providers, and raising cigarette taxes by $1 a pack.
State Representative Norine Hammond says Illinois could save about half the Medicaid money the governor targeted in his budget address.
Governor Pat Quinn wants to cut $2.7 billion from Medicaid spending for next fiscal year.
Hammond said Quinn signed a bill into law about a year ago that tightened Medicaid eligibility requirements. The changes never took effect because the state needed a federal waiver first. The waiver request was denied.
In his budget address, Governor Pat Quinn, said three-quarters of Illinois' pension burden is for people who don't work for the state. It covers some of the pension costs for teachers and others who are employees of local government bodies.
State Senator John Sullivan (D-47) said the state must bring all the stakeholders to the negotiating table to find a long-term solution to funding pensions.