- Published: Monday, March 04, 2013 09:16 AM
This past week, I supported a measure that will expand health care coverage to nearly 342,000 low-income Illinois citizens. Senate Bill 26 will expand Medicaid coverage to residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $15,400 for an individual and $31,800 for a family of four. In my district alone, there are nearly 10,000 uninsured residents who will now qualify to receive Medicaid coverage under the proposal.
I supported the measure because I believe every citizen deserves access to health care services, no matter their financial situation. This legislation will provide access to health care services for low-income people who are not currently covered by Medicaid.
But that is not the only reason why I supported Senate Bill 26. I also supported the proposal because it saves the state money, lowers health care costs for people who are insured and will create jobs in the health care industry.
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services estimated that expanding Medicaid coverage will save the state and estimated $105 million annually in savings related to substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment and eliminating the Comprehensive Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Also, all costs associated with the expansion in health care coverage are covered by federal matching funds for the first three years and phased down to 90% by 2020.
Health care costs have been rising for several years and the number of uninsured Americans has an impact on those rising costs. Hospitals are currently providing uncompensated charity care for residents who are uninsured. This puts a major burden on the hospitals and ultimately raises the cost of health insurance for citizens who are insured. By reducing the number of uncompensated charity cases, we can lower the cost of health insurance for citizens who are insured.
We need to take advantage of every opportunity to create jobs in Southern Illinois. This proposal will create an economic boon in the state with the influx of nearly $4.6 billion in federal funds. Those funds will have a major impact on the health care industry, including an increase in jobs.
I anticipate the proposal passing the House and being sent to the governor to sign.