* 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.
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.