Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Edgar Signs Measure to Overhaul Medicaid in Illinois Welfare Recipients Would Get `Managed Health Care'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Edgar Signs Measure to Overhaul Medicaid in Illinois Welfare Recipients Would Get `Managed Health Care'

Article excerpt

Welfare recipients will be forced into managed health care programs next year under a bill Gov. Jim Edgar signed Tuesday to cut the state's soaring Medicaid debt.

The managed-health programs are set to start April 1, but only if the state gets permission from the federal government, which pays half of all Medicaid bills. State officials plan to seek federal approval next month.

Edgar said he believed the state's effort to control Medicaid costs would win approval from federal officials because President Bill Clinton advocates new programs to control health care costs.

"This legislation is designed to tame a budget monster that is playing havoc with tax dollars in Illinois and almost every other state in the union," Edgar said at a press conference in the Executive Mansion, where he is recuperating from heart surgery.

"By overhauling our Medicaid program, we will be protecting taxpayers without taking money away from education, services for the abused and neglected children, mental health treatment and other priority needs," the governor said. "The private sector has demonstrated that managed care can bring cost control and predictability to health care."

Medicaid costs have doubled since Edgar took office in 1991, leaving state officials unable to pay $1.4 billion in bills from doctors, hospitals and pharmacies who treat the state's poor.

Health-care providers across Illinois have had to wait months to get reimbursed from the state. Now they hope managed health care will help the state pay its medical bills on time. …

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