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Fun with numbers

Thursday, May 22, 2014

* As I’ve told you before, whenever you don’t see actual numbers in an article, beware what you read

Illinois Democrats are discussing expanding Medicaid spending at the same time Gov. Pat Quinn is laying out a “doomsday” budget if he doesn’t get a temporary income tax increase extended.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Newspapers in Illinois reported Thursday that lawmakers are considering restoring dental care and podiatry services. They were eliminated in a 2012 reform aimed at saving $1.6 billion.

Rep. Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat and leader on Medicaid, says restoration depends on having revenue to pay for it.

But he said it’s worth a look because when patients seek treatment for ailments not covered, they go to the emergency room, and individual emergency room visits are more expensive than Medicaid-covered trips to the doctor.

* More

Republicans say its ridiculous for Democrats to talk about avoiding a budget apocalypse by raising taxes while at the same time meeting behind closed doors to discuss an expansion of spending.

“They are clearly not interested in our input,” said state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.

State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said some of the proposed changes are necessary in order to comply with new federal rules.

In addition, she and Harris said a review of programs cut in the Medicaid reforms of 2012 found that it could cost less to add back adult dental care and podiatry services in order to stop people from going to emergency rooms, where treatment is more expensive.

* OK, first of all, that $1.6 billion mentioned above is the total Medicaid savings from all cuts and reforms. It’s not these two items, which are rather small. Here’s the state’s Medicaid share of what we’re actually talking about here…

$17.5 million for adult dental
$2.5 million for podiatry

So, all this hue and cry over $20 million so people can get some preventative care in order to stay out of the emergency rooms, which costs a whole lot more money - some say three times more.

Oh, and by the way, Medicaid currently won’t cover anesthesia or pain killers if you go to an emergency room for a tooth extraction.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Waffle Fries - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    Full on silly season in Springpatch

  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:09 pm:

    –They were eliminated in a 2012 reform aimed at saving $1.6 billion.–

    Based on this sentence, how could you not conclude they’re talking about $1.6 billion in new spending?

    What a terribly written story.

  3. - Milo - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:20 pm:

    Emergency room services for dental and podiatry, since when?

  4. - OneMan - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    Milo –

    A tooth abscesses and causes a massive infection and/or pain. Happens more often than you think. Podiatry, diabetic foot problems get out of hand and you can end up in the ER easily (also see the whole infection thing)

  5. - Analyst - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:24 pm:

    Deja vu all over again. These same “reforms” were enacted years ago, then restored when the net savings never materialized and costs for emergency room care rose significantly. Medicaid history 101.

  6. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:27 pm:


    People on Medicaid go to the ER for a whole lot of things if they can’t access the services elsewhere.

  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    ===also see the whole infection thing===

    Also see diabetes.

  8. - Bill White - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    It seems to me that this is a factual issue that the two parties should be able to talk about without partisan rancor:

    Q: Does it “cost less to add back adult dental care and podiatry services in order to stop people from going to emergency rooms, where treatment is more expensive?”

    If the answer is “Yes” and I believe it is, then to criticize this as “more spending” is flat out dishonest.

    If the answer is “No” then there is a political issue to discuss.

  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    Such strange choices being made in Springfield.

    We couldn’t find $20 million somewhere in last year’s budget?

    We saved $24 million from ending CHIP in that budget. We just realized a one-time revenue boost of $588 million earlier this month.

    We also managed to find an extra $13 million for DCEO, $2 million for the Arts Council, $45 million for Corrections even after the closures, $20 million for the Supreme Court, $16 million for ICJIA, and so on. All from General Revenue Funds.

    But yeah, let’s cut dental care and podiatry.

  10. - Federalist - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 3:10 pm:

    A program that has grown from $500 million in 1970 to c. $15 billion today is a huge issue that actually gains little MSM attention- at least compared to pensions.

    No easy answers. But expanding the program certainly will not help the budget.

    And nursing home costs are huge. Seniors 65+ (not counting seniors with disabilities) account for 5-6% of the enrollment and 19% of expenditures. According to HFS data for 2010, each 65+ cost an average of over $16,000 per person (may or may not be in nursing home).

    Interestingly Medicare for which many contribute for 30-40+ years does not provide nursing home assistance, but the Medicaid welfare program does.
    Yes, I know throwing Granny out in the cold will be immediately brought up. But the costs will probably escalate in the future with more old people and more lower incomes that qualify.
    Again, everybody ‘hides’ when these realities are mentioned.

    This program has to be severely revamped with far fewer going to expensive nursing homes and more in-home day care attention. No easy answers, but this welfare program has and is killing the budget.

    By the way, 52% of the births in this state are paid by Medicaid. And, of course, that will more than likely lead to those children and their parents being on Medicaid. Again, almost total silence from the MSM and the politicians. Not even a serious discussion of the issue. Just expand the programs and eventually, maybe, pay the backlogged bills.

  11. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    ==If the answer is “Yes” and I believe it is, then to criticize this as “more spending” is flat out dishonest.==

    It’s not about numbers, it’s about punishing poor people.

  12. - Soccermom - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    Adult dental is hugely important. Right now, the only option for the very poor is to wait until a tooth is rotting and infected and have it extracted. Do you know how hard it is to find a job when you’re missing a front tooth?

  13. - dupage dan - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 3:38 pm:

    Frankly, neither side of the aisle is believable. Some hyperbole and rancor is to be expected during an election year, especially when it concerns executive office. I am mostly tuning the ads out. The only way to remain sane. I can’t even get any giggles out of them.

  14. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 3:42 pm:

    Dear Senate Republicans:

    I thank you for telling me about all the things you are against. What I haven’t heard is anything you are for. I’d like to hear about it as soon.


  15. - Bill White - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 3:53 pm:


    == No easy answers. But expanding the program certainly will not help the budget. ==

    Q: Does it “cost less to add back adult dental care and podiatry services in order to stop people from going to emergency rooms, where treatment is more expensive?”

    If the answer is “Yes” then expanding the program will save tax dollars and help the budget.

    Meals on Wheels is another example.

    Spend “pennies” to take care of seniors in their own homes and save “dollars” on nursing home care paid for by Medicaid using tax dollars.

  16. - Bill White - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    @ Federalist

    = This program has to be severely revamped with far fewer going to expensive nursing homes and more in-home day care attention. No easy answers, but this welfare program has and is killing the budget. =

    Expanded funding for Meals on Wheels will save considerable money being spent on Medicaid funded nursing homes.

    But - Gasp! - that requires expanding a program.

  17. - Annie - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 4:05 pm:

    If you think the Lee News story was bad, wait for their editorials on the subject.

  18. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 9:23 pm:

    Perhaps the better question is who does want Dale Righter’s input these days?

  19. - Federalist - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 10:05 pm:

    @Bill White,

    Yo seem to be full of insights as to my comments but you are offer nothing in terms of any types of facts or helpful insights except your own personal opinions that are of the usual PC comments.

    “But - Gasp! - that requires expanding a program.”
    If this is an attempt to be witty and sarcastic you do yourself little credit.

    Medicaid is a financial disaster for the state and needs a total overhaul. When you can come up with something more substantive than to attack my comments, please do so.

  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 10:22 pm:

    –Medicaid is a financial disaster for the state and needs a total overhaul.–

    What would you suggest? Less access to health care? In service of what?

  21. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, May 22, 14 @ 10:44 pm:

    There was a total overhaul two years ago that barely won political support. If you can’t pass it, it doesn’t matter.
    Just something to keep in mind.

  22. - Bill White - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 6:10 am:

    In the area of preventative health care, yes, expanding programs can save tax dollars.

    Which should be seen as a win-win scenario, except when politics trumps the public interest.

  23. - Federalist - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:18 am:


    I do not claim to know all the answers, but a truly serious examination of who gets what and how services are delivered does need a thorough examination.

    I gave at least some data on this issue which is something few, if any, bother to do.

  24. - Federalist - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    @Bill White,

    Yes, in certain cases it can. If you bother to read and think about what I stated I did support expanding an existing program in order to save costs in the final analysis.

    Again, I actually provide some data and try to make insightful comments. Naturally, ideologues will jump all over such rational blogs. I hope that you are not among them.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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