News Local/State

House Votes To Undo Medicaid Cuts On Adult Dental, Podiatry


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 (D-Chicago) said better to pay the smaller amount for routine care than to wait and be stuck with a heftier hospital bill. Flowers said 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," she said.

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

The sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), said 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.