House Votes To Undo Medicaid Cuts On Adult Dental, Podiatry

May 28, 2014

Credit Karen Roach/

The Illinois House has voted to undo a series of cuts in the state's program of health care for the poor. Backers of the change say the cuts have come with a significant cost.

 Two years ago, Democrats and Republicans agreed to massive reductions in the Medicaid program, with savings estimated at greater than $2 billion. Now Democrats say some of those cuts are costing more than they're worth.

Adult dental services, for example, were limited to emergencies only. But without routine check-ups, patients wait until problems get really bad, then show up in emergency rooms, sometimes with significant infections.

Rep. Mary Flowers, a Democrat from Chicago, says better to pay the smaller amount for routine care than to wait and be stuck with a heftier hospital bill.

And she says there are other benefits for people with healthy teeth: "They will be able to go to work and not lose wages — the lost opportunity of not being able to find a job."

The legislation would also restore podiatry care and allow people with mental illness to have increased access to medication.

The sponsor, Democratic Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago,  says the legislation would also let Illinois collect an additional $2.4 billion from the federal government, with a state investment of about $125 million.

It passed on a bi-partisan vote of 75-37, and now goes to the Senate.