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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Durbin, Rauner Denounce Proposals To Replace Obamacare With State-Run Medicaid

"Wheelchair" by Flickr User zeevveez / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin had harsh words Monday for Republican proposals in Congress to repeal Obamacare and give states more responsibility in running Medicaid.

President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan have both said they’re in favor of so-called block grants; it would transform Medicaid into a system where each state receives a bulk payment from the federal government to pay for healthcare for the poor, elderly and disabled.

That means each state would have to figure out its own how to direct that money and what services to provide.

In an appearance in Springfield with downstate Illinois hospital executives, Durbin said the budget impasse means Illinois is already struggling to pay its bills to hospitals.

“And the notion that Medicaid or some part of it is going to be managed by the state in its current fiscal situation is really scary," Durbin said.

Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is urging congressional leaders to avoid "hasty'' or "incomplete'' action as they proceed with a planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

A Jan. 17 letter from Acting Illinois Insurance Director Jennifer Hammer says Congress and the states "must work together'' to achieve "important reforms'' in health care policy.

The letter urges Congress to provide "certainty and stability'' to people covered through the health care law.

On Medicaid, the letter says Illinois leaders have "significant concerns'' about the state's ability to run a sustainable program under proposed changes.

The Republican governor said last week he was cautious about repealing the law "with nothing to replace it.'' He also expressed doubts about turning Medicaid over to the states in the form of block grants.

  • Illinois Public Radio's Tom Lisi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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