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Comptroller: ‘Obamacare’ could cost state as much as $2.4 billion over six years as more enroll in Medicaid

June 28, 2012

Online Staff Report

CHICAGO — Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R) warned lawmakers June 28 that the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, informally known as “Obamacare,” could lead to hundreds of thousands of new residents enrolling for Medicaid coverage, and cost the state up to $2.4 billion over the next six years.

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 June 28 to uphold Obamacare. Click here to read about the ruling.

The forewarning from the state fiscal officer comes after the court ruled the federal government can tax residents who do not have health insurance. Given the decision, uninsured residents who qualify for Medicaid are expected to increasingly enroll in the program, and cost the state up to $2.4 billion over six years in the process.

There is no doubt that this will cost the state, the only question is how much?” Topinka questioned. “We have thousands of residents around the state that are eligible for Medicaid but have never enrolled for one reason or another. We expect they will increasingly come forward, and I urge lawmakers to start saving now for those added costs.”

Medicaid accounts for more than 20 percent of the state budget and continues to grow. Underfunded, the program will end the fiscal year June 30 with an estimated $2 billion in unpaid bills. In an attempt to address those realities, members of the General Assembly this spring voted to limit services and cut an estimated $2 billion from the program.

Illinois is a textbook example of what can happen if financial challenges are not proactively addressed,” Topinka said. “The state needs to learn from experience, and take steps today to address the increased Medicaid costs that will occur in coming months and years.”

Meantime, Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon (D) supported the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act is a good law,” Simon said in a statement. “It helps seniors, young adults and middle-class Americans receive stronger, more affordable care. It promotes preventive care, such as checkups and mammograms. And it prevents insurance companies from denying care to people with pre-existing conditions or charging women more based on their gender. The Supreme Court ruling today upholds these commonsense protections and puts our country on a healthier path. In Illinois, I encourage our state leaders to use this ruling as a backdrop as we set policies to make our citizens healthier, train the next generation of health care workers, grow local food systems and find other opportunities to move our state forward.”

Posted June 28, 2012

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