Essentially every Republican politician in Springfield, including gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady, wants to structurally reform Illinois' Medicaid system. By forcing all Medicaid enrollees into a private managed care program, they argue, the state can deliver better care while saving at least $1 billion.
Next time Brady or his colleagues bring up Medicaid, reporters should ask them to respond to new data out of the Washington-based Robert Graham Center. The think tank just published a study of two public programs in Illinois that are using managed care principles and would be eviscerated by the GOP's plan. In fiscal year 2009, Illinois Health Connect (which links up 1.7 million Medicaid recipients with primary care doctors) saved the state $140 million while Your Healthcare Plus (which helps 220,000 Illinoisans more effectively manage chronic diseases) saved $300 million. Those totals are even more substantial than Medicaid director Theresa Eagleson identified in April. And the programs don't carry any of the risks of "failures, abuses, and outright fraud" perpetrated in the past by private managed care organizations in Illinois. It seems like Illinois' Medicaid system isn't working as poorly as the GOP contends.