Illinois Democrats Slash Medicaid in order to ‘Save It’
Submitted by Illinoisnoki1 on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 11:18
By Bill Bianchi, PDA-Illinois
Hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans will see health care cut back, even eliminated under legislation approved by Illinois lawmakers …The Daily Herald
In a misguided attempt to solve the state’s budget crisis through tough austerity measures, the Illinois house and senate passed legislation  cutting roughly $1.5 billion, about 20%, from the state’s share of Illinois’ Medicaid budget. The Federal government’s share of the Medicaid (50%) will be reduced by a similar amount.
Leading Democrats congratulated themselves over their work. Senator Heather Steans, (D-7) representing mostly
affluent Northside Chicago neighborhoods and the proposal’s chief sponsor said, “It’s really in total about shared sacrifice, and making a lot of tough decisions here for the overall good of the state.”
But the only ones being asked to sacrifice seem to be low income working people of Illinois who depend on Medicaid. Steans didn’t explain what sacrifices that she and (Photo Windy City News)
Sara Feigenholtz, chief proponent of the cuts in the House, and their constituents are making.
Summary of Cuts
Class and race bias also emerged during the run up to the vote.
Representative Mary Flowers (D- 31) re[representing a low-income Chicago district pleaded with the bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, “I'm begging you, Representative, for the life of the people who are going to die as a result of this legislation. I'm begging you. Please, let us do something different,”
Rep. Feigenholtz, representing high-income Lincoln Park, justified her measure saying that helping the state's poor in the long run requires cutting back now. “I know it seems ironic, but this is the only way we can accomplish that [helping the poor],” Feigenholtz said.
Her ironic words echoed the bizarre statement of the Viet Nam era American commander who said of a village demolished by US bombs, “We had to destroy it to save it.”
No wonder African American Senator Donne Trotter exclaimed, “I have never seen the callousness existing with those who want to make such drastic cuts against those who are the most vulnerable.”
Big Corporate Subsidies
Calls for “shared sacrifice” are particularly galling since only a few months ago the legislature, including many Democrats, handed out big tax breaks to large and profitable private corporations.
For example, Motorola Mobility Inc. recently received $100 million in state subsidies over a ten year period while their CEO, Sanjay Jha, received an annual salary of $47,152,687. Motorola can provide their CEO with that salary yet in turn demands sacrifice from Illinois citizens.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which gained roughly $900 millions in profit last year also received a big tax break totaling roughly $80 million from the same legislators who are so proud of their tough decisions in cutting Medicaid.
Governor Quinn described the cuts as, “…the first step toward saving Medicaid for those that rely upon it.” It’s hard to image what the next steps will be.
Like the Greek politicians, Illinois’ leaders are forcing the working people of Illinois to suffer the results of the financial crisis caused by Wall Street's casino operators.
As we saw in Greece, austerity doesn’t work. It doesn’t produce jobs or prosperity because it takes money out of our local economy. Cuts increase unemployment and decrease consumption . As a result, the state collects less in income and sales tax, and falling revenues, in turn, will trigger more calls for budget cuts. The politicians are putting us in a downward economic spiral.
A Better Way
Instead of cutting and privatizing, our politicians should think outside the conservative fiscal box and implement new progressive economic approaches. These include:
• Revenue enhancement through a progressive income tax and
a state-based Speculation Sales Tax. 
• A jobs proposal funded by the new revenue that:
-- Creates new jobs by rebuilding infrastructure, supporting
green energy and investing in local economies,
-- Increases the minimum wage to ensure living wage jobs,
-- Creates a state-owned development bank dedicated to
investing in Illinois’ economy,
• A Medicare for All (Single-payer) system for financing health care in Illinois would cost far less than the current system and would reduce the state’s long term deficit while providing high quality universal medical coverage for all. 
We can’t cut our way to prosperity and we shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of those with the least political power. A progressive approach will solve the state’s fiscal crisis by building a just, prosperous and healthy society for all. It’s the smart thing to do.
1. The bill passed in the House 94 to 22 and in the Senate 44-13
2. According to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a non-profit, bipartisan research group, “…Illinois’ lack of tax fairness has both contributed materially to the state’s General Fund budget deficits and harmed Illinois’ private sector economy.”
According to Bill Barclay of the Chicago Political Economy Group, a $1 Speculation Tax per contract on derivatives traded on the Chicago exchanges would likely raise $6,000,000,000. And instituting a graduated income tax, similar to Iowa’s, would bring in $6,200,000,000 annually while lowering taxes for 54% of Illinoisans.
3. A single payer plan in Maryland would save $6 billion on total health expenditures in 2013 while covering all 736,000 of the state's uninsured according to an analysis by economist Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts. Overall he found that single payer would save about $1,000 per Maryland resident. (PNHP Newsletter, Spring 2012, page 4.)
If those numbers were applied to Illinois, the savings on the state's total health care expenses would total $13 billion. That includes state, local, private and employer costs.