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Senate Democrats restore previous cuts to Medicaid services

trotter0617Short-sighted health care cuts that ultimately put needy people at risk have been reversed thanks to a newly signed law pushed by Illinois Senate Democrats.

For instance, the new law restores Medicaid eligibility for podiatric and dental services, removes limitations on rehabilitative services and gives children with complex needs access to the medicine they need to function and remain comfortable. The new law is a cooperative effort between legislators and nursing homes, along with managed care, hospital and community providers to reach the policy solution known as the Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Initiative (MMAI).

In 2012, the Illinois General Assembly enacted far-reaching Medicaid reforms designed to help alleviate budgetary concerns. However, the consequences of those reforms created hardships for many Illinois residents, and in many cases drove people to see more costly emergency medical care.

With these hardships in mind, members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus began crafting legislation to address these problems. Senate Bill 741, sponsored by nearly half of the Senate Democratic Caucus, is the product of months of hard work designed to solve these issues.

With the initial reforms, low-income men, women and children unable to obtain needed medical care. Second, there was concern about the long-term effect on the state's finances. Cutting back on the routine care that can prevent disease or detect it early can lead to more expensive emergency room visits and hospital stays.

The new law provides policy guidance for Medicaid managed care, a hospital finance plan for the next four years and rate reform for both the hospital and nursing home industries. The new law finally provides leadership in ensuring parity with the Affordable Care Act in Illinois as well. It will also inject $622.5 million into the state's health care system, much of the funding ($400 million) provided through an initiative of the Affordable Care Act.