(Springfield, IL) — June 30, 2010. Republican lawmakers in Springfield are getting in their “I told you so’s” now that Congress has balked at extending federal stimulus funding.
Including in the sweeping plans in Washington, D.C., was about $700 million which was earmarked in the new state budget for a continuing enhanced Medicaid match. But the so-called FMAP money — Federal Medical Assistance Percentage – is not coming in time for the start of Illinois’ new fiscal year on Thursday.
Medicaid is the state-federal health care program for the poor and disabled. The federal stimulus program set to expire Dec. 31 boosted the federal share of costs for all states.
A spokeswoman for Governor Pat Quinn said the governor is not taking the Congressional inaction lying down. Quinn on Wednesday afternoon will join 10 other governors in a conference call to strategize on garnering federal support for the increased Medicaid match, according to Annie Thompson.
“He’s not standing on the sidelines on this,” Thompson said.
Governors from New York, New Jersey and California will take part in the call, as those states have grappled with crafting a budget right down to the wire.
But GOP lawmakers say the extra Medicaid money should never have been included in the Democratic written budget.
State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) said Quinn wanted the most optimistic numbers he could find, and now the state is going to have to pay the price.
“When you are doing a budget you have to work with real money,” she said. “You cannot count on money that is supposed to come in.”
Quinn on Monday said he’s not ready to give up on the idea of getting that $700 million, noting that other states are in the same financial boat. The National Conference of State Legislatures has reported that 30 states have built fiscal year 2011 budgets that include the additional Medicaid money.
“We’re working with the U.S. Senate…Medicaid is a state and federal mission for healthcare and we need that money. The chapter has not been completed on that one.”
Quinn will unveil the final FY 2011 budget Wednesday morning. Lawmakers last month approved a budget that was unbalanced, and gave Quinn sweeping authority to make lump sum cuts.
State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) said that’s because Democrats in Springfield don’t care about the numbers. He said they’re just playing politics.
“To them whether it’s $6.5 or $7.5 billion our of line it doesn’t really matter, Syverson said. “Unfortunately to the bond companies and the taxpayers of the state of Illinois it does.
Bellock said Illinois is already asking many Medicaid providers to wait months to get paid. She worries that without the $700 million from Washington just about anyone who relies on Medicaid will be left holding the bag. The increased federal match came with the stipulation that states reimburse most Medicaid providers within 30 days.
“Others, such as doctors, nursing homes, and hospitals I don’t think they’re going to command a 30-day payment again. So that will create an even bigger problem.”
Syverson said the solution is not just better budgeting from the Quinn administration, but an overhaul of Illinois’ Medicaid program.
“Are we going to have the richest Medicaid system in the country? Are we going to have a state that says we don’t care where you’re from…you come into our state and we’re going to provide you with healthcare at higher levels than other states do?
Benjamin Yount, Illinois Statehouse News Mary Massingale contributed to this report.