Quinn signs Medicaid cuts, cigarette tax hike
From Chicago Tribune:
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a package of bills into law Thursday that will slash health care coverage for the poor and hike cigarette taxes by $1-a-pack to help pay for the struggling Medicaid program.
The $1.6 billion in cuts to the program come amid the state's ongoing budget problems despite last year's major income tax increase.
Quinn had warned that without action the health care program would collapse under a mountain of debt.
"One of our most important missions in Springfield this year was to save Medicaid from the brink of collapse," Quinn said in a statement this morning. "We preserved our health care program that millions of our most vulnerable rely upon."
Opponents argue the sweeping cuts put the state's most needy citizens at risk.
"One of our most important missions in Springfield this year was to save Medicaid from the brink of collapse," Quinn said in a statement, adding. "we preserved our health care program that millions of our most vulnerable rely upon."
Under the measure Quinn signed, hundreds of thousands of poor Illinoisans would lose health coverage under stricter qualification standards.
A prescription drug discount program for seniors would be eliminated and dental care for adults would be greatly curtailed.
Doctors and hospitals that provide care will see payment rates slashed.
To prevent cuts from going even deeper, Quinn also plans to sign off on a $1-a-pack cigarette tax increase.
Quinn argues the measure will encourage people to stop smoking or to never start, while opponents say it will simply force smokers to buy cigarettes across state lines.
The cuts will go into effect beginning July 1, and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has already dispatched hundreds of thousands of letters informing recipients that they will no longer qualify for care or face reduced services.