From Aetna Health Reform Weekly

Aetna reports:

“ILLINOIS: Legislators will return to session next week after a two-week break.  Front and center through the end of May are Governor Quinn’s Medicaid and pension reform requests contained in his budget address. The governor is proposing cutting $2.7 billion from Medicaid alone.

The state’s unpaid bills total about $8 billion.  Some legislators already are suggesting that the reform bills be put on hold until after the Nov. 6 election.  The Governor has warned that if the Medicaid and pension reform issues are not addressed in a significant way this spring, the 67 percent income tax increase will become permanent and the budget will be cut further for social services, education and other state services.  The House also passed a resolution recently cutting another $700 million from the Governor’s introduced budget.

Joy Wilson, Health Policy Director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said balancing the budget is going to be almost impossible because of the ACA’s Medicaid requirements. Illinois Medicaid recipients nearly doubled in a decade, from 1.5 million people in 2003 to 2.9 million, but the ACA prohibits states from making any changes to eligibility until 2014, except in limited cases. Illinois recently received a federal exemption allowing the state to check the residency of Medicaid recipients and is now seeking an exemption to tighten income verification. Wilson indicated that a proposal to cut reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers will be difficult as HHS is working on a rule that would require states to demonstrate that cutting reimbursement rates won’t affect care adversely.  A legislative working group continues to meet to discuss better controlling Medicaid costs, and its findings are due in mid-April.  The governor indicated that the legislature will not adjourn if no serious reforms are enacted by the end of spring session on May 31.”