More local lawmakers sound off on Quinn’s Medicaid, pension plans – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register

2 May

More local area lawmakers sounded off on Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposals to overhaul the state’s Medicaid and pension programs.

We tried to get state Sens. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville, and John Sullivan, D-Rushville for their input on Monday, but they did not respond in time for our story that ran this morning. The SJ-R caught up with them on the Senate floor Tuesday.

On pensions…

Both Sullivan and McCann said that in its present form, they could not vote for the governor’s pension plan, which calls for the retirement age for full pension benefits to be raised to 67, and for cost-of-living increases to be cut to the lesser of 3 percent or the consumer-price index. The plan would apply to all state workers who have not yet retired and who began work prior to Jan. 1, 2011. Quinn believes it would save between $65 billion and $85 billion.

Sullivan said he believes an increased employee contribution is inevitable — it’s just a matter of whether it will be a 3 percentage point increase, what Quinn has called for in his proposal, or something else.

McCann said he believes negotiations between the executive branch and its employees can work through the state’s pension problems if everyone is doing so in good faith.

“If we are going to change the system in any way, shape or form, one thing we must do is make sure that it’s fair to everyone in the system,” McCann said. “It has to affect everyone equally. One group cannot get a sweetheart deal while another group doesn’t.”

McCann said he has heard from his constituents, a number of whom are state workers, who have said that they believe they are working for an administration that doesn’t take agreements seriously.

“I think we need to honor our obligations and negotiate with our employees in good faith,” McCann said.

On Medicaid…

But while McCann said he would vote against the governor’s Medicaid proposal, Sullivan said he did not know how he would vote.

Sullivan said the governor and lawmakers need to find a balance between cutting costs and providing the necessary services to Illinois residents, but also the costs of not covering it. One service he said his constituents are worried about is adult dental service, which would be cut under Quinn’s plan.

“If a Medicaid-eligible person comes into the emergency room, all they can really do —they can’t fix it —they can only give them an antibiotic or something like that. It’s not going to help in the long run,” Sullivan said. “It’s not going to take care of the real problem.”

McCann believes a lot of savings could result in kicking ineligible people off the Medicaid rolls. He’s proposed legislation that would restrict Medicaid access to U.S. citizens only, but it has gone nowhere.

Both Sullivan and McCann said they do not support raising the cigarette tax by $1. Both of their districts border Missouri (Sullivan’s district also borders Iowa), and raising the cigarette tax would cause more of their constituents to go over state lines in an effort to avoid the higher prices.

McCann said Illinois families are already overtaxed, but Sullivan said if a different tax were proposed to help fund the Medicaid liability, he would be open to it.

“I’d certainly be willing to take a look at it,” Sullivan said. “What’s interesting about the cigarette tax is the correlation because it does drive up health care costs. Could a beer tax do that? I guess you could make that connection, but not as much.”

via More local lawmakers sound off on Quinn’s Medicaid, pension plans – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register.

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