Illinois budget fight strains providers
As Illinois nears its fourth month without a budget, healthcare providers and health plans are scrambling to maintain services despite late and erratic Medicaid payments.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner continues his high-stakes poker game with Democratic legislative leaders. He’s pushing for tighter worker compensation rules, limiting collective bargaining by public employees, liability lawsuit curbs, term limits for lawmakers and a property tax freeze—demands the Democrats reject.
A federal court ruled in July that the state must continue making Medicaid payments. This has kept many providers from closing, but there is uncertainty about how long the state can continue making payments.
Jeff Joy, CEO of Illinicare Health, said providers can’t prop up the Medicaid program indefinitely. The state is routinely at least two months behind in payments, and some physicians have stopped seeing Medicaid patients.
Maryjane Wurth, CEO of the Illinois Hospital Association, said the state’s safety net and rural hospitals in particular are struggling with cash flow. Hospitals are looking at layoffs, service cuts and possibly closures. Even for less-affected hospitals, future projects are on hold.
Joel Johnson, CEO of the Human Resources Development Institute, which provides behavioral health services, said his organization has had to close some residential programming and furlough about 60 staffers. Psychiatric care will be eliminated on Nov. 1. “It’s all coming to a head right now, at a risk to some of our most vulnerable people,” he said.
Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner isn’t
budging on his state budget demands.