Medicaid Expansion Update

A few weeks ago the Senate took the first step toward expanded access to health care in Illinois. The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) offers 100% reimbursement for care provided to certain low-income adults who aren’t currently eligible for Medicaid when states expand their medical assistance programs to include them.
I’ve sponsored and secured passage of legislation (Senate Bill 26) that will allow all adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who have incomes at or below 138% of the Federal Poverty Limit to enroll in Illinois Medicaid. Within this age and income range, persons with disabilities and caregivers of minor children are already eligible. Adding other low-income adults will save hospitals and local governments money by giving an estimated 342,000 people access to preventive, coordinated care rather than forcing them to use expensive emergency room care for all their medical needs.

It’s very important that we not leave this federal funding on the table, especially after the realities of last year’s state budget necessitated significant cuts to the Medicaid program. Even after full reimbursement ends in 2016, the federal government will pay 95% of our costs until 2020, when the rate will decrease to 90%. The federal reimbursement rate will not dip below 90% in subsequent years. Expanding Medicaid will bring $1.08 billion into Illinois in 2014 (the first year of expanded eligibility) and more than $12 billion between 2014 and 2020. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services projects expansion will replace with federal funding $105 million in yearly health care expenditures currently borne by the state.

The House can now consider SB 26. Rep. Sara Feigenholtz has also introduced similar legislation, HB 106. Her Medicaid expansion bill, HB 6253, was approved in January by the House Appropriations – Human Services Committee. However, the full House did not vote on the bill before the session ended.

With limited state resources available for vital program, leveraging federal dollars is a smart approach to health care. I hope the House agrees we need to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to improve quality of life in our state while cutting costs and reducing the burden on hospitals.

Please contact me if you have any questions about Medicaid expansion or any other issue. You can reach me by phone at773-769-1717 or by email at steans@senatedem.illinois.gov.