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State Panel Fails To Come Up With Plan To Cut Medicaid Budget

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Illinois House Floor

House floor at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. (AP File Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — An Illinois state panel appointed to find ways to cut Medicaid costs has taken one step forward and two steps back.

As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, the bipartisan group of Illinois legislators assigned by Gov. Pat Quinn to cut the state’s Medicaid budget by $2.7 billion has failed to come up with a plan.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports

The committee of two Democrats and two Republicans mulled over a list of 56 potential ideas that add up to only about $1.4 billion in cuts to the health insurance program that serves nearly three million poor and disabled Illinois residents. Those ideas include eliminating Illinois Cares Rx, which helps nearly 200,000 seniors get prescription drugs, limiting prescription drugs and cutting tangible benefits like visits to chiropractors.

But committee members told The Associated Press shortly after meeting Wednesday that they disagreed on bigger points such as a potential $1-a-pack cigarette tax increase and rate cuts to health care providers.

With no progress by the panel, Quinn will now move ahead with his own proposal.

“We have not agreed on a final proposal,” said Republican state Rep. Patti Bellock, a member of the committee. “The governor is going forward. He wants to go forward with something.”

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson declined to give details about the governor’s proposal, but said it was informed by ideas offered by the committee.

“They’ve been working on laying out all the options,” she said.

Illinois faces intense fiscal problems, including unpaid bills of roughly $8 billion, a massively underfunded state pension system and rising Medicaid costs. The governor has vowed to accomplish Medicaid and pension reforms this year.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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