Medicaid payments at risk as Illinois nears budget deadline with no agreement

If Illinois does not have a budget plan in place when the 2016 fiscal year begins July 1, new vendor and Medicaid provider payments will stop, along with state worker paychecks and money owed to school districts, according to a report from Reuters.

"If the General Assembly is unable to work with the governor to enact a balanced budget for fiscal 2016 by the end of this month, nearly all payments coming from my office will stop on July 1," Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger said Wednesday.

Maryjane A. Wurth, president and CEO of the Illinois Hospital Association, issued the following statement on the matter: "On behalf of the patients and communities they serve, Illinois hospitals are deeply concerned that payments from the state for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries and state employees may stop if the state budget impasse is not resolved by July 1. Many hospitals — especially safety-net, rural and critical-access hospitals that serve vulnerable communities in all parts of the state — depend on state revenue to fulfill their mission of providing quality health care to their communities. A lengthy state shutdown could jeopardize access to healthcare for the children, seniors and families in these communities. A significant delay in payments from the state could jeopardize hospitals' ability to meet their obligations — pay employees, vendors and suppliers — and meet their operating expenses."

Ms. Wurth added that if the budget impasse is not resolved by the end of the month, adoption of a temporary one-month budget should be considered until a final budget agreement is reached, according to the statement.

In the event the FY 2016 budget is not enacted by July 1, Ms. Munger said bills incurred in the current fiscal year will be paid, as well as payments on Illinois' $30 billion of outstanding bonds, retired worker pensions, revenue-sharing to local governments and certain financial assistance programs for the poor and disabled. However, without appropriation authority from a budget, she cannot issue payments for fiscal 2016 bills, according to Reuters.

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who appointed Ms. Munger comptroller, has insisted state legislatures pass his turnaround agenda, which includes term limits and a local property tax freeze. Gov. Rauner aims to implement these measures before considering a tax increase, while Democrats, who control the legislature, have passed a $36.3 billion budget that depends on cuts and more than $3 billion in new revenue that has not yet been sourced.

"I'm here to remind all involved that this is not a game to be won or lost," Ms. Munger said, according to the report.

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