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Critics: Big Medicaid cuts were false choice



Critics: Big Medicaid cuts were false choice

By: Jim Anderson

CHICAGO — Illinois’ new Medicaid landscape will produce problems.

For example, preventive medicine is curtailed, said Lynda Delaforgue of the group Citizen Action.

“Preventative care is something that we should all invest in, and one of the sad things that happened in this last round of Medicaid cuts is we actually cut preventative care. We’re no longer going to allow for preventative dental care for the Medicaid population. We’re only going to take care of tooth extractions,” she said.

Laurence Msall of the Civic Federation said that’s unfortunate, but what else can you do?

“You cannot look at the Medicaid budget, the Medicaid reforms, without putting it in the context of the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis,” he said.

The governor this week signed the Medicaid reform package of bills into law. They represent cuts to services and eligibility and increases in revenue – mostly from a $1 cigarette tax increase – totaling $2.7 billion.

Msall says the reforms will stabilize Medicaid, but they won’t reduce costs. The state will close its fiscal year in two weeks with $9 billion in unpaid bills, $4 billion of which will be owed to Medicaid providers.

Delaforgue said the premise that Medicaid had to be cut to be saved was unfair. She says closing corporate tax loopholes could have prevented cuts worth hundreds of millions.