Gov. Pat Quinn signed this morning a package of bills to achieve his desired $2.7 billion in Medicaid savings, including a bill that cuts $1.6 billion from Medicaid -- the federal-state health care program for the poor, elderly, and disabled -- and a measure to raise the cigarette tax by $1 a pack. The cigarette tax hike is expected to generate $700 million a year, including $350 million in matching federal funds. As PI has reported, the cuts largely spare Medicaid providers, i.e. hospitals and physicians. But the legislation cut or eliminated a number of programs, including the elimination of Illinois Cares Rx, which gives prescription drugs to seniors.
Also, the $2.7 billion actually translates into $1.3 billion in savings. The rest is money Illinois will not see in its federal Medicaid reimbursement. The federal government reimburses half or more of each state's Medicaid costs.
The bills officially become law July 1.