Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich followed through on a promise to wield a line-item veto and administrative authority to trump the General Assemblys rejection of his healthcare plan.
The move ended up burning the Illinois Hospital Association, one of his few allies in promoting the failed plan for universal access to affordable coverage. Among the $463 million in cuts, the governor carved $40 million from spending allotted for payments to hospitals under state health insurance programs.
Here we are after this historically long session with nothing in terms a viable agreed-upon plan to cover the uninsured and also a Medicaid budget that does not fully fund the Medicaid program, said Howard Peters, the IHAs senior vice president for government relations. We are hard-pressed to find the silver lining in that.
The governors veto also rubs out $50 million from payments to nursing homes and $10 million from grants aimed at a hospital run by the struggling Cook County Bureau of Health Services, which serves the indigent in the Chicago area.
A budget should reflect the priorities of the people who elected us to make their lives better, Blagojevich said in a written statement. Thats why Im removing almost $500 million in special pet projects and other spending that we simply cant afford. And at the same time, were preparing new rules and administrative changes that will give half a million Illinoisans access to healthcare.
The promised healthcare expansions include breast and cervical cancer screenings for uninsured women, broader eligibility for Medicaid, and primary-care and prescription-drug coverage for poor residents who dont qualify for Medicaid.
Overriding the veto would require action in both houses of the legislature, which Senate President Emil Jones has said he will block. Blagojevichs office did not return a request for comment. -- by Gregg Blesch
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