by Jonathan Ingram
Last night, we reported on a bill that is headed to the Governor's desk which would allow the Quinn administration to implement key provisions of ObamaCare in Cook County nearly two years early. This bill was pushed through the legislature with virtual no debate or discussion on the floor.
Last year, lawmakers decided -- nearly unanimously -- to put a moratorium on expanding the Medicaid program so as to not overload an already broken system. HB 5007 gets around that moratorium by permitting "expansions approved by the federal government" which are financed through local and federal tax dollars. Only one such waiver has ever been filed. You can read it here.
This waiver's expansion is based on implementing the new eligibility rules in ObamaCare, which would not otherwise take effect until 2014. These are the very provisions that a majority of states are suing the federal government over. In a letter accompanying that waiver, Julie Hamos, the director of Illinois' Department of Healthcare and Family Services, wrote that she was seeking a waiver to "demonstrate the impact of early enrollment of 'new Medicaid eligibles' under the Affordable Care Act." According to the waiver, an "estimated 250,000 eligibile adults in Cook County" could be enrolled in the program.
The bill itself then references ObamaCare in later pages, specifying what happens if the relevant provisions of Public Law 111-148 are held unconstitutional or are repealed by Congress.
Ultimately, including provisions that would overload an already-broken system with hundreds of thousands of new people as part of an overall "reform package" will hurt taxpayers at a time of record government spending, deficits and debt.