State using tax-season funds to pay health care bills

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ comptroller says increased revenues coming into the state during tax season have allowed her to release more than $800 million in payments for health care services.

Comptroller Susan Mendoza on Wednesday said the money will go to nearly a dozen managed-care operations in Illinois serving Medicaid patients. The State Journal-Register reports that Mendoza’s office says those organizations can use the money to pay doctors, hospitals and mental health counselors.

In addition to the more than $800 million, the office says it also plans to issue more than $150 million in payments directly to hospitals Thursday.

The payments come as the state of Illinois has a bill backlog of more than $11.8 billion amid the lack of a state budget. Democrats in the state Legislature and GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner have been in a budget impasse since June 2015.

“While this brings some welcome relief to long-suffering health care providers, it covers only a third of the bills my office has received from them,” Mendoza said. “Without a budget, there will not be enough money to pay health care providers as we enter the lean summer months.”

Mendoza’s office said these health care payments only are possible right now because of judicial orders.

“The state needs a budget,” said Edgar Curtis, CEO of the not-for-profit health system that operates Springfield’s Memorial Medical Center as well as hospitals in Jacksonville, Lincoln and Taylorville.

The aid comes days after state payments totaling $881 million were issued to schools with students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

–Associated Press

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