Now that it appears unlikely that Congress will extend the enhanced Medicaid matching fund rate included in last year’s stimulus bill -- thereby blowing a $450 million hole in the Quinn administration's revenue projections for FY 2011 -- Republicans are coming out of the woodwork to blast Democrats for what they consider "overoptimistic" budgeting. "To them, whether it's $6.5 or $7.5 billion our of line, it doesn't really matter," State Rep. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) said yesterday. Syverson also questioned the amount of resources the state is spending on public health during the recession, asking if Illinois is "going to have the richest Medicaid system in the country?"
The answer to his second question, by the way, is a resounding no; David Ormsby notes that Illinois spends less per patient than 41 other states. That's partly because we stiff providers; but it's also the result of serious reforms that are holding down costs and improving care. And the GOP's "overoptimistic" argument is a bit silly, as well. State governments in 30 different states similarly assumed that Congress would extend the stimulus matching rate. Furthermore, when given the chance during session, the GOP "did not propose a single appropriations bill or amendment to address this problem," as Capitol Fax points out.