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Illinois Legislators Consider Allowing Rauner Greater Budget Cutting Authority

Illinois lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the governor to make unilateral budget cuts. But it could also impact the state's access to health care. 

  For residents living in Macomb, a small city in Central Illinois, the wait to see a therapist is about of three months.

Kenny Boyd, president of the McDonough District Hospital in Macomb said his hospital has seen a 70 percent increase in patients seeking mental health treatment in the area. Thanks to the state budget stalemate, another provider closed one of its locations in the area.

Boyd said lawmakers the plan that would give Gov. Bruce Raunerextraordinary authority to cut the budget might worsen access to health care because it could make way for more cuts to mental health funding or leave more residents uninsured.

"While I understand that the bill does not dictate what the governor can do, but gives options, there is nothing requiring the reductions were to be applied by the executive uniformly or in a balanced method," he said.

The legislation could also affect the quarter of the state who have Medicaid. Illinois expanded eligibility for the program under former Governor Pat Quinn, through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Illinois in its ninth month without a budget and the state's having a hard time paying its bills. Boyd said it's possible Rauner could roll back the Medicaid expansion.

"This bill would dismantle these protections, placing hospitals and the state of Illinois at risk of losing critical federal Medicaid funding," he said."

Democrats also oppose the measure. Rauner has said he wants the power so he can balance the budget. The governor has refused to work with Democrats on a spending plan until they help pass his ideas for long-term growth. Democrats have continued to claim Rauner's solutions will instead hurt the economy.?

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