The Tribune ran a curious editorial
this morning on Illinois' Medicaid system. On the one hand, the paper
praised Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly for passing three
Medicaid reform bills they described as "steps toward reforming and
monitoring" the public health program. The editors then proceeded to
whack those same pols for not "undo[ing] former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's
illicit expansion of the program -- or the costly failure of timid
Democratic legislators to block him."
What the Tribune doesn't note is that the "illicit
expansion" in question -- in which Blagojevich unilaterally increased income eligibility for the state's FamilyCare program
from 185 percent of the federal poverty level to 400 percent in 2007 -- was almost immediately blocked in the courts. Indeed, at this point, there is nothing for legislators to "undo."
While it may seem easy to blame Illinois' Medicaid costs on Blagojevich, it's just not that simple. The reality is that this portion of the state's spending has grown because of rising health care
costs at the national level, increased demand, and moderate eligibility expansions approved in recent decades by both Republican and Democratic administrations.