By Paul Gorski
This column is in response to the online staff report: “Sosnowski: Medicaid expansion in Illinois ‘irresponsible’” (http://rockrivertimes.com/2013/05/28/sosnowski-medicaid-expansion-in-illinois-’irresponsible’/).
While I appreciate state Rep. Joe Sosnowski’s attention to Illinois’ budget crisis, I don’t believe the 2014 funding increase for the Medicaid program is “irresponsible,” but rather I believe it was planned as a long-term plan to help mitigate program cost increases.
I won’t argue that Illinois doesn’t have a budget crisis, it does. However, the scaling back of the program and the removal of ineligible recipients from the Medicaid rolls in 2013 was not only to save money in the short term, but to pave the wave for a much regulated, modest growth in the program over the next few years, as more people become eligible.
“Structural changes” were made to the program. The entire program is under review to remove ineligible recipients, better document eligibility claims, and streamline the workflow using new, updated computer systems and electronic workflows. These changes weren’t just made to patch a budget shortfall, though; they were made in anticipation of legitimate claimants being added to the Medicaid program.
There’s “no rush into expanding a program,” as Sosnowski claims. The plans were clearly laid out last year and effective the beginning of this year.
From the Medicaid Redetermination Project website: “The Illinois Medicaid Redetermination Project (IMRP) will improve Medicaid integrity by validating that clients who qualify for medical benefits receive them, while those that are not qualified are dis-enrolled. The state’s Medicaid program will use advanced data matching technology to verify income and residency of the state’s 2.7 million Medicaid clients on an annual basis.” Visit the site at http://www2.illinois.gov/hfs/MedicalCustomers/eev/Pages/default.aspx.
Mr. Sosnowski may not like how we fund the Medicaid program, but changes to reform the program, which helps mostly children, were laid out a year ago and have already been successful in identifying ineligible recipients so legitimate recipients may receive benefits, now and in the future. That sounds pretty “responsible” to me.
Paul Gorski (http://www.paulgorski.com) is a Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper.
From the May 29-June 4, 2013, issue