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Quincy Herald-Whig - GOP Lawmakers Call Health Care Law a State, Federal Budget Buster During Quincy Visit

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Location: Unknown

By Doug Wilson

Federal health care laws will cost Illinois billions of dollars, according to several GOP lawmakers who held a press conference at Quincy Regional Airport on Friday.

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, said if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not found unconstitutional, it will add to Illinois' budget woes.

"It will require a 25 percent increase in Medicaid rolls, or about 700,000 new people in Illinois," Schock said.

With the average Medicaid recipient costing the state $2,000, the new enrollees could push costs up $1.4 billion.

Earlier this month, Schock attended the U.S. Supreme Court hearings on the health care law. He believes the law will be found unconstitutional, because it appears that a majority of the justices do not believe the commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution can require U.S. residents to buy insurance.

Schock believes that Gov. Pat Quinn will not wait to see how the court rules and may spend "billions of dollars" setting up health care exchanges that will be required in 2014 if the law remains viable.

"The last thing we should be doing is setting up exchanges and adding to the costs of a system that is already bankrupt," Schock said.

Medicaid was budgeted at $14.3 billion in the current state budget. That is 40 percent of the overall budget.

Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, said Medicaid could grow to $21 billion by the end of fiscal 2017 if reforms are not made. Illinois lawmakers have been asking that state officials verify how much income Medicaid recipients make and confirm that they're residents of the state.

Although Quinn has asked for a federal waiver to allow the residency confirmations, he has not sought a waiver to require proof of income for Medicaid recipients.

Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, said Illinois also offers about 40 percent higher Medicaid coverage than is required by the federal government.

"I call it the Cadillac program," Tracy said.

If the state would scale its coverage back, it might help meet Quinn's pledge to cut $2.7 billion from Medicaid this year, Tracy said.

Earlier in the week, Charles Blahous, approved by President Barack Obama in 2010 as a trustee overseeing Medicare and Social Security, concluded that the Affordable Care Act would boost federal budget deficits.

White House officials pointed out that Blahous had been a part of the George W. Bush administration and said the Congressional Budget Office reported last year that the law would reduce the federal deficit over the next decade.

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