Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner approved legislation on Monday to revamp the way hospitals are paid for treating low-income people on Medicaid. It's intended to help them collect billions of dollars.
State lawmakers have been negotiating the “Hospital Assessment Program” for months. It’s one of the ways Illinois hospitals get federal money to pay healthcare costs of disabled, poor, and elderly people on Medicaid.
Under the current program, hospitals pay a tax, called an "assessment," based on their size. The federal government then matches those payments, and the money is redistributed to hospitals according to how many Medicaid patients they treat.
The money would have dried up this summer if lawmakers didn’t come up with a new way to distribute it that meets the latest federal requirements.
Signing the legislation, Governor Rauner says hospitals in the state’s poorest regions will get more money.
“It’s long overdue to come up with a new way to reimburse healthcare delivery in the state for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.
State Senator Heather Steans (D, Chicago) says without that money, some hospitals would close.
“It’s critical that we maintain stability for the hospitals who are serving this population, and that we do have the chance to make sure folks have the ability to get the right care, in the right place at the right time," she said.
Federal Medicaid officials still need to approve the funding plan. That could take up to a year, but lawmakers say the current plan will continue until the new one is approved.