Republicans call Pritzker’s ‘taxpayer savings’ in migrant health care disingenuous



(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker says any changes to the state’s program where Illinois taxpayers subsidize the health care of non-citizen migrants is up to the Illinois Legislature. Republicans say the program is being poorly managed at taxpayer expense.

The current budget the Democratic supermajority approved has $550 million budgeted for taxpayers to cover the costs of non-citizen health care. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services projects the annual costs to be closer to $773 million.

Friday, Pritzker said his administration is installing copays for non-citizens as a way to save taxpayers money. Any further changes to the program, he said, will be up to the legislature.

“Again, we’ve lived within the budget that was set for us and now the question is what would the Legislature like to do going forward,” Pritzker said. “So, we’ll be having those discussions over the next several months.”

Along with the copays, Pritzker said taxpayer savings can also come about with the option of non-citizens joining a managed care organization.

“It saves money if we keep people out of emergency rooms and keep people out of hospitals, it actually saves taxpayers money and that’s what this program really does,” Pritzker said.

Senate Republicans have criticized the ongoing taxpayer costs, saying they crowd out spending for other priorities. State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, questioned whether copays save taxpayers anything.

“So the fact that copays are in place that are going to save taxpayers in this state money is absolute nonsense, it’s disingenuous as hell and I think the governor owes the taxpayers in this state an explanation of what they’re actually trying to do,” DeWitte said.

Last week, DeWitte said the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules was told non-citizens entering managed care organizations is voluntary.

“But if they don’t enter enrollment into the managed care organization, you know where they’re going? To the local emergency room where they’re going to get charged carte blanche rates and the state and the federal government are gonna be on the hook to pay for it,” DeWitte said. “No copay.”

Legislators return Feb. 20. Pritzker delivers his proposed budget Feb. 21.

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