Illi­nois bud­get fight strains providers

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Shan­non Much­more

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.

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