On Tuesday, February 5, 2013, the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee took up consideration of S.B. 26, which would expand Medicaid in the state of Illinois. AFP-IL State Director David W. From submitted written testimony to the committee in opposition to the legislation. The text of his letter appears below.
February 1, 2013
Dear Public Health Committee Members,
The expansion of Medicaid, as proposed in S.B. 26, will add more than 500,000 people to the already broken entitlement program. As you are aware, Illinois currently has a backlog of billions in unpaid bills to doctors and hospitals piling up on top of having some of the lowest payments to providers in the country. Delayed reimbursements and below-market payments actually encourage physicians not to cover Medicaid patients leaving many Medicaid recipients with fewer care options. By expanding Medicaid eligibility, many people will be forced into this broken system. In July, I authored an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune regarding Medicaid expansion and many of the facts I cited remain true.
With more than 20% of the state’s population already enrolled in Medicaid, and 35% of the state’s doctors rejecting new Medicaid patients, it makes little sense to add more people to a failing system. Providers are waiting, in some cases, half a year (or more) for reimbursement at dropping rates, providing little wonder why medical providers would opt to avoid new Medicaid patients. The massive influx of new recipients would overburden an already struggling system, resulting in worse care for more people from a dwindling number of providers.
From a moral standpoint, simply funneling more people into an ineffective system is bad public policy. According to a 2010 University of Virginia study, surgical patients on Medicaid are 97% more likely to die than privately-insured patients and, incredibly, 13% more likely to die than uninsured patients. I am reminded of the quote from the Canadian Supreme Court when they struck down a portion of that country’s health care law in 2005 – “access to a waiting list is not access to health care.” Simply expanding Medicaid, without addressing any of the causes of its lack of efficiency or efficacy, would be doing a disservice to the people of Illinois.
It is for these reasons that I urge you to reject S.B. 26.
David W. From, AFP-IL State Director