Medicaid costs could rise if home care budget cut, study says
SPRINGFIELD -- A new study warns that state government’s costs could actually rise if Illinois reduces Medicaid funding for home care services in order to balance next year’s budget.
The Chicago-based Health and Medicine Policy Research Group said that people who receive home care services could be forced into nursing homes or other institutions if Medicaid funding for home care is reduced.
“It is cheaper for the state to pay for home-based services than to pay for more expensive institutional-based services,” Lisa Hardcastle, president of the Illinois HomeCare and Hospice Council in a statement. “This study shows states that invested in home care programs achieved savings for taxpayers while states that cut home care suffered from increases in long-term care costs.”
Gov Pat Quinn proposed cutting the program by 10 percent in his outline for filling a $2.7 billion budget shortfall in Medicaid. The administration said the service is not required by federal rules. It projected a savings of $11 million from the cut.
But the research group’s study says those savings may not be achieved if people who formerly could stay in their homes are forced into nursing homes because home care is not available to them.
A working group of lawmakers has been meeting for weeks to come up with a list of cuts, rate reductions and revenue increases to fill the $2.7 billion hole.
“We’ve made $1.4 billion in cuts, but that still leaves $1.3 billion we have to find,” said Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago. “I have not heard a consensus from either chamber about cutting rates.”
Quinn proposed cutting rates paid to providers to treat Mediciad patients by $675 million.
The remaining difference would be made up by raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, under Quinn’s plan.
“That’s still way up in the air,” Trotter said of the cigarette tax increase.
Negotiators are aware of the impact cuts will have on people, he added.
“There are moral issues you have to address as we look at cutting back on a program that really serves the most vulnerable people of the state,” he said. “It’s something that has to be done, but it’s something that impacts people from birth to death.”
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527.