Friday, June 1
June 2012 - State Legislative Update
Medicaid "Restructuring" Bill and Cigarette Tax Increase Passes Both Houses; Budget Bills Pass the Senate and Await House Action; School Bullying Prevention Bill Fails Twice in Senate by One Vote.
Both the Illinois House and Senate have passed SB 2840, a Medicaid "restructuring" bill, interestingly called the SMART Act. The bill combines cost-saving measures to combat fraud, scrutinze vendors, and institute more care coordination and managed care with serious cuts to certain programs and services, and the elmination of some programs.
When Governor Pat Quinn presented his budget address earlier in February, he asked for $2.7 billion in cuts to Medicaid to keep the program solvent. This has been accomplished— at least on paper—by cutting $1.6 billion, raising $800 million in new cigarette tax revenue and $300 million in other savings.
Among the programs impacted by SB 2840 are the Illinois Cares Rx program, a prescription drug assistance program for senior citizens and persons with disabiities (Eliminated); adult dental coverage (Limited to emergencies); and a waiver that pays for in-home nursing care for medically fragile or technology-dependent children in order to prevent nursing home or hospital adminssions (Significantly scaled back). The Home Services Program operated by the Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services willl also be cut back by raising the qualifying determination of need (DON) score from 29 to 37.
Part of the $2.7 billion savings was realized by passing SB 2194, which raises the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. It is also predicted by the governor that approximately 60,000 will stop smoking and 80,000 children will not start smoking as a result of the higher cost.
On the budget front, the Illinois Senate sent three budget bills over to the Illinois House last week; they are now being amended in the House. Hearings were scheduled for today and then recessed. We expect the budget to be passed in the next two days, but there is still a chance they will go into overtime.
In other legislative action, both houses have passed SB 3261 which sets standards for hospital charity care for uninsured patients. The bill, among other things, calls for the Attorney General to adopt rules to establish standard provisions for applications for financial assistance and to also set standards for assistance, including eligibility for certain financial assistance and needs-based programs such as SNAP.
Also for a second time, the Illinois Senate today failed by one vote to pass HB 5290, a bill to requires school districts and certain private schools to adopt policies which address bullying and incorporate certain elements such as a complaint procedure. Certain groups such as the Illinois Family Institute oppose the bill and sought an opt-out of school events, assemblies, and programs to which a student's family has moral, personal, or religious objections.