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Health Services Take Hit in Blagojevich's Cuts

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Expanding health care for those who can’t afford insurance has been a main initiative for Governor Rod Blagojevich. But health services took a hit in the cuts he made to balance the state budget.

Nobody who relies on government-backed health care was kicked off of it. But nonetheless Blagojevich trimmed nearly $600 million that was supposed to pay for Medicaid services. That means it will take longer for the state to pay back nursing homes, doctors and hospitals for the services they provide. Howard Peters of the Illinois Hospital Association says Illinois is already slow to reimburse, often taking more than 100 days. He predicts that now it could take nearly a year after caring for a Medicaid patient that hospitals will get what they’re owed.

PETERS: It becomes potentially an unmanageable situation where critical purchases that could improve patient quality have to be postponed.

A spokeswoman for the governor says the payment cycle under the new budget will be three months. Peters says he has no idea how Blagojevich’s office could come up with that short a timeline.

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