The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare, will have a profound impact on Illinois’ Medicaid patients. It will make the program more expensive and worsen care for those who need it most by adding more people to a failing program.
ObamaCare expands Medicaid in two major ways: First, it expands eligibility. Second, it increases participation in the program through the individual mandate, health insurance exchanges and enhanced outreach. Under ObamaCare, total Medicaid enrollment in Illinois will reach nearly 4.5 million people in 2019 – three times the enrollment of only a decade ago. A program that was created as a temporary safety net for America’s most vulnerable population soon will serve more than one third of the state’s population.
This expansion will cost Illinois $1.4 billion in the first year alone. By 2019, Illinois will have spent $10 billion more on Medicaid than the state would have had ObamaCare not been implemented. If the state cannot meet its financial obligations now, how will it cope with these greater expenses?
Illinois’ Medicaid program already fails to serve those who need it most. The state’s long delays in paying providers have forced many doctors to make Medicaid patients wait longer, if they agree to see them at all. If and when they receive care, they frequently suffer worse outcomes than even the uninsured. With Illinois recently lengthening payment delays to record lengths, these problems will only get worse.
ObamaCare should immediately be repealed and replaced. Reform should focus on consumers and leave states with the flexibility to design and manage Medicaid programs that fit the unique needs of their communities.
While Congress works to repeal ObamaCare, Illinois lawmakers should focus on reigning in out-of-control spending through consumer-centric reforms that give patients greater control over their health and ensure quality care. Legislators should consider Medicaid reform that pairs sliding-scale premium assistance for high-deductible private insurance plans with medical savings accounts. These types of plans are increasingly popular in the private sector and have managed to control spending without sacrificing high quality care.
Legislators should also make private health insurance more affordable by repealing health insurance mandates. These mandates often make plans so expensive that families are priced out of the private insurance market. This would ensure that families get the coverage that works best for them, not the coverage that works best for bureaucrats.
Why This Works
By replacing ObamaCare’s one-size-fits-all model with consumer-centric reform, Illinois can make coverage more affordable for families. Pairing high-deductible health plans with medical savings accounts will help control costs for Medicaid patients as they have in the private sector. These plans work by providing financial incentives for making wise choices about health care consumption.
Reducing the number of health care mandates will reduce the costs of insurance premiums, giving consumers greater choice and low-cost options that suit their families’ needs. Affordable coverage ultimately means that more people will participate in the private market, which ensures that the Medicaid program remains fiscally sustainable and that those most in need will have access to quality care.