A bipartisan group of Illinois state lawmakers joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker to celebrate the signing of a bill they say will save taxpayers money on Medicaid costs, one of the largest items in the state budget.
“Health care is a right for all, not a privilege,” Pritzker said Monday when he signed Senate Bill 1321. “Today we are making sure taxpayers are getting more of what they’re paying for, and we are advancing health care for vulnerable people who need it most.”
Pritzker touted the new budget that was enacted last month, which included $80 million more for Medicaid than the previous spending plan, an increase of 18 percent, the governor said.
With a backlog of more than 95,000 Medicaid patients, state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said the signing of Senate Bill 1321 Monday will bring multiple state agencies together to better care for patients.
“What we should be doing with care coordination is getting the right care at the right time at the place and making sure that patients get access to care when they need it and the right kind of coverage,” Steans said.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said correcting areas of the Medicaid system have been frustrating, but he said he the new law will help save taxpayers money.
“We’re excited that as of the results of today, providers will do better, families will certainly do better and, as mentioned, taxpayers will do better,” Syverson said.
One-in-four Illinois residents, or about 3 million people, use Medicaid, but there’s been a backlog of 95,000 cases.
House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said the measure Pritzker signed Monday will help.
“This legislation expands access to care,” Harris said. “It cuts bureaucracy, it adds transparency, accountability to the eligibility system. As the governor said, it breaks down the backlog of 100,000 backlogged cases.”
State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said the measure helps control taxpayer costs.
“We don’t want to control costs through red tape, we don’t want to control costs by making people jump through extra hurdles,” Demmer said. “We want to control costs by getting providers, getting managed care organizations, patients and communities to engage together to actually improve health outcomes for folks.”
The governor’s office said the new law improves the timeliness of applications, redeterminations and payments to providers and decreases the number of Medicaid claim denials.
It’s unclear how much the bill will save taxpayers, but supporters have said that making things more streamlined and transparent will go a long way.
The measure passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.