SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that will significantly improve the state’s ability to adequately reimburse health care providers in a timely fashion by leveraging $430 million more in federal Medicaid resources.
“This is a way to help our hospitals help people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to health care. This allows us to build on the success we had last year when Illinois was one of only three states in the country that expanded health care coverage,” the Governor said. “I want to thank Senator Jeff Schoenberg for negotiating a creative solution that respects the needs of health care providers and addresses our state’s fiscal reality. I also want to thank the four legislative leaders for working with my office to make sure the funds will be used for what they were intended in years to come.”
The new law, House Bill 701, was sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston). The measure puts in place a new assessment on hospitals that serve Medicaid patients. Revenue generated by the assessment will boost the amount the state receives in matching funds from the federal government. If a federal waiver is approved, Illinois will leverage additional federal resources of $430 million for the state’s health care network. Hospitals in will receive increased payments of $300 million. Additionally, nursing facilities will see a significant rate increase and funds will be made available to improve the Medicaid payment cycle.
“I applaud Governor Blagojevich for signing this important bill and look forward to continuing our work together to provide accessible, affordable and quality healthcare in our state,” stated Senator Schoenberg. “By securing additional funding for Medicaid through this proposal, we are ensuring that hospitals and other health care providers will continue to deliver quality services to Illinois residents. Illinois needs this critical increase in federal funding at a time when health care-related costs continue to represent major spending pressure on the state budget.”
Gov. Blagojevich held off on signing the legislation until he received a commitment in writing from the four leaders of the Legislature – Senate President Emil Jones Jr., Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan, Senate Minority Leader Frank C. Watson and House Minority Leader Tom Cross – that a portion of the funds would be set aside to speed up payments to Medicaid providers. Also, at the request of the leaders, a portion of the funds will be used to pay for services to developmentally disabled individuals and for nursing homes.
“This law is another example of how the Blagojevich Administration is committed to leveraging every opportunity to strengthen the state’s health care system,” said Barry S. Maram, the Director of the Department of Public Aid, which runs the state’s Medicaid system.
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured last year singled out Illinois as one of only three states in the nation to significantly expand health coverage in 2003, at a time when budget constraints forced many states to slash access to health care.
The Blagojevich Administration in 2003 expanded the KidCare program to cover an additional 20,000 children, and the FamilyCare program for parents and caretakers of children in KidCare to cover an additional 65,000 people.
Overall, Illinois added 106,000 children, parents and seniors to its Medicaid program in the first year of the Blagojevich Administration.