Howard Brown Health Center Appreciates Illinois Legislature Medicaid Budget Reform Legislation
Will work closely with officials to iron out details

CHICAGO, IL (May 25, 2012)Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) commends the Illinois legislature for tackling the daunting task of Medicaid budget reform. While it was not easy, HBHC recognizes that something had to be done to save many key programs and services on which countless Illinois residents depend. Particularly People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), many of which are our patients and clients, stood to be most affected.

With much work still to be done to implement the details, HBHC will work closely with Director Julie Hamos and the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS), Gov. Quinn and the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to ensure that our patients and clients’ needs are addressed.

The Save Medicaid Access and Resource Together (SMART) Act (Senate Bill 2840), championed by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, in whose district HBHC resides, was the product of months of negotiation and compromise by her and three other leaders in the General Assembly: Sen. Heather Steans, Rep. Patricia Bellock, Sen. Dale Righter, along with Director Julie Hamos and her staff. “We are thankful to Rep. Feigenholtz for hearing our concerns and for her willingness to take action. We also thank Sen. Steans, Rep. Bellock, Sen. Righter and Director Hamos for their tireless efforts and work to save vital health care programs that many of our patients rely on to remain healthy,” says Howard Brown Health Center’s President and CEO Jamal M. Edwards, Esq.

Howard Brown Health Center is highly concerned about having to obtain the State’s prior approval before prescribing certain highly effective HIV medications that have been proven to promote adherence among HIV patients and decrease transmission of the virus. The current prior approval process is complicated and needs similar reform in consideration of the complications that those with HIV/AIDS face.

HBHC recognizes that there will be changes for some of our Medicaid patients and will work closely with the Department of Health and Family Services so that our patients’ care will not be interrupted. “Failure to act and do nothing to salvage Illinois’ Medicaid program would have crippled our State’s healthcare system,” said HBHC’s Public Policy Director Clint W. Sabin.

Moreover, we’re excited about the 1115 Waiver legislation that was passed enabling special enrollment into Medicaid for additional low-income individuals. The 1115 Waiver, in particular, will open Medicaid enrollment for some LGBT and HIV-positive residents of Cook County, many of whom are not currently eligible for Medicaid benefits.

Lastly, we applaud the General Assembly’s cigarette tax increase; the revenue raised will lessen the need for additional Medicaid cuts and shift the burden where it belongs.
Source: press release from Howard Brown Health Center
$1.6 billion saved via provider rate cuts, spending reductions and service limitations
CHICAGO – The Illinois House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved major reforms and budget cuts to the Illinois Medicaid system.

The House voted 94-22 for legislation, Senate Bill 2840 sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), that slices $1.6 billion from the Illinois Medicaid system through a combination of health care provider rate cuts and the reduction or elimination of health care services to the poor.

“This bill is the result of months of deliberations and negations between legislators, hospitals, providers, health care organizations, advocates and other key stakeholders,” Feigenholtz said. “We have done as much as possible to deliver these cuts with the least amount of impact to vulnerable populations.”

Under the proposal, doctors, dentists, federally qualified health centers, government hospitals, safety net hospitals, and critical access hospitals would see no reduction in their current reimbursement rates while all other hospitals would experience a 3.5% rate cut, according to Feigenholtz. Nursing homes would have their rates cut 10% for low need patients and 1% for high need patients.

Adult Medicaid patients’ services would be limited, including eyeglasses, wheelchair repairs, and physical therapy services. Prescription drugs for all patients would be limited to four per month, although this cap could be lifted with doctor approval. The Illinois Cares Rx senior prescription drug program will be eliminated completely.

Additionally, eligibility for Family Care, which offers coverage to low-income parents, would be reduced to 133% of the federal poverty level.

“Our goal has always been to make the ‘least worst’ decisions when making these cuts,” said Feigenholtz. “Although painful, I am confident that these reforms will make the system more stable and efficient to ensure that a strong Medicaid system can continue to provide care for the most vulnerable.”

Yet-to-be-introduced legislation raising the state tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack would generate $350 million in new revenue. A 100% federal match would add an additional $350 million to help fund Medicaid services.

Senate Bill 2840 now awaits consideration by the Senate and final approval by Governor Pat Quinn.

For more information, contact Feigenholtz’s constituent services office at (773) 296-4141 or