The wheels are turning in Springfield as health care reform marches on in the Land of Lincoln.
A plan to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income adults without children passed narrowly through an Illinois House committee on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
The Human Services Committee voted 8-6 in favor of the expansion which is part of the Affordable Care Act 2010. The measure was already passed by the senate and continued on to the House floor.
On May 27, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 63-55 to pass a key measure that will expand Medicaid in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The bill (SB 26) first passed the Senate on February 28, but since the House amended it, this legislation needs to return to the Senate before landing on Governor Quinn’s desk.
Governor Pat Quinn favors Medicaid expansion.
This expansion would make approximately half a million Illinoisans newly eligible for coverage with estimates at roughly 340,000 people enrolling by 2017.
SB 26 will allow Illinois to extend Medicaid coverage to adults ages 19 through 64 who earn less than about $16,000 per year, including thousands of individuals living with HIV. Previously, people with HIV had to be totally disabled before they qualified for Medicaid.
Democratic state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, who sponsored the bill told the committee “We are finally going to be able to insure people, childless adults specifically, for the first time in as long as I can remember.”
The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of coverage for the new Medicaid population for the first three years, then tapering between 2017 and 2020, until it reaches 90 percent. SB 26 will bring an estimated $4.6 billion in new federal spending to Illinois, resulting in tens of thousands of jobs and new economic security for families.
Those opposed to the bill worried about the state’s ability to pay future costs once the Federal money is gone or if the government suddenly puts more of the financial burden on the states.
Illinois has been struggling financially.
The bill was pushed by House Democrats who warned that if the Medicaid expansion failed it would lead to unintended consequences such as jeopardizing the CountyCare program in Cook County.
Health organizations and health advocates across the state applauded the House for passing this legislation on a holiday weekend and urge lawmakers in the Senate to act swiftly with a concurrence vote before the General Assembly concludes this session on May 31.