Quinn considers overhauling healthcare

Published 02/13 2014 12:57PM

Updated 02/17 2014 12:00PM

Latest: 10:06 pm, 2/16/14, Sunday
ILLINOIS -- The state is planning to roll out a major Medicaid overhaul this year, but some healthcare providers say it's all happening too fast. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels explains.

"We've acknowledged that the Medicaid program is not sustainable."

That's why the state is planning a major overhaul. They want to dramatically change the internal structure of the program to make it more efficient.

"If we're designing programs around what's best for the people, we have to not continue to live in those same silos that were created back in the late 70's and early 80's."

The new plan aims to get more people covered, help Medicaid patients get better care and will put more emphasis on preventative measures. To do all that, the state is applying for a federal waiver which will put $5 billion extra in Illinois' bank account.

"Theoretically, what we're doing is getting some money in advance through this waiver route."

But, those who work closely with Medicaid patients say they're worried the state is rushing into things. The blueprint for the overhaul was released earlier this week, leaving the public only about a month to look it over before it's sent off for consideration.

"A project of this size takes time to understand and digest and share with those people that it's going to affect."

Providers say asking questions doesn't help.

"We're disappointed in the lack of detail regarding implementation and oversight. It leaves us with more questions than answers. Important operational questions have been responded to with a 'standard details will be worked out later' response."

State officials say they understand the concern, but the lack of detail is actually intentional.

"With budget agreements and big issues going on in Washington, we didn't want to spend another year coming up with details and then submitting the waiver proposal by which point it might have been too late. We don't know how long that window will stay open and that's why we're moving this ahead as quickly as possible to get our application in by March."

The state will submit the waiver application next month. If it's approved, they say they'll work with providers and patients to figure out the fine print when the time comes.
Update: 4:13 pm, 2/14/14, Friday
ILLINOIS -- Earlier this week, the state announced plans to expand Medicaid this year, but now some worry it's too rushed. Healthcare providers want more details first.

Discussions about the expansion have been going on for a couple years, but the first look at what it might mean, only came earlier this week. So far, Medicaid providers aren't happy.

The plan looks to expand the state's healthcare services through a $5 billion federal waiver. They want to add more people to the roles and focus more on prevention, all while saving the state some money in the long run.

But, service providers say they don't have enough details about what these changes will mean for people or how they'll be implemented. State leaders say they understand the concerns, but it's either now or never for the waiver since it's not a guarantee the federal government will offer the program again in the future.

The state will submit a waiver application next month. If it's approved, changes for Medicaid could start later this year.

It was another strong month of sign-ups for the country's new healthcare plans. The latest enrollment stats show 27,000 people in Illinois registered for one of the policies in January.

That brings the state's total to 88,000. More than half of the people in Illinois who signed up were 45 years old or older. Nationally, about three million have signed up.
Original: 6:03 pm, 2/12/14, Wednesday
ILLINOIS -- Governor Pat Quinn is pushing for a total healthcare overhaul. Now, we're getting a first look at the plan. He wants to expand Medicaid, but it won't cost Illinois any more than we're already paying.

The state is applying for a $5 billion federal waiver which would match our current Medicaid spending over the next five years. Under the plan, the state wants to add 500,000 people to Medicaid rolls and increase the quality of care.

The money would go toward things like supportive housing for Medicaid patients, disease prevention programs and increased support for parents of newborns. The state says, in the end, the goal is to save taxpayers money by reducing long-term healthcare costs.

The state is still looking for input on the proposal. To be a part of it, there will be a public hearing:

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