HEADLINES : Illinois
Quinn: Medicaid must be cut back
Gov. Pat Quinn plans to call for major Medicaid cuts during his annual budget address Wednesday and issue a warning that immediate changes must be made or the state's health care system for the poor could collapse.
A Quinn spokeswoman said the speech will serve as a "reality check" for lawmakers who also will be asked to approve 9 percent cuts for most state agencies and further reforms to the costly state worker pension system.
Aides say Quinn will suggest trimming projected Medicaid spending by $2.7 billion in the budget year that starts July 1. If they don't, aides warn, a backlog of unpaid bills that already stands at $1.9 billion will grow so large that doctors, hospitals and pharmacies may cut off services because the state can't pay for them.
"This is not something that we can blithely delay for another year," said Michael Gelder, Quinn's senior health care policy adviser. "We really fear the collapse of the program if that accounts payable balance grows by another penny."