Rev. Jesse Jackson on Medicaid cuts: ‘People will die’

May 29, 2012

Jewell Washington

Rev. Jesse Jackson urged Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Tuesday to not sign a bill that would cut Medicaid expenses.

The senate bill is expected to reduce Medicaid costs by $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2013. It would cut services designed to help the poor and disabled, including a shutdown to Illinois Cares Rx, a senior prescription drug assistance program. The program currently services 180,000 people.

Jackson said people could die because of the cuts.

“Medicaid is life or death and we choose life,” Jackson said. “The Governor must not sign this bill until we find an alternative.”

Mike Claffey, a spokesman with the Governor's office, said Illinois Cares Rx is simply not feasible with the state's budget. He emphasized that once a person's once out-of-pocket Medicaid expenses exceed $4,700, they would be fully covered by the federal government.

“This was not an easy decision by any means,” Claffey said. “We simply cannot afford to fund this fully state-funded program.”

The bill passed in both the House and Senate last week.