Attorneys in a lawsuit over $2 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills say court-ordered talks to resolve the issue haven't made progress, and they're asking a judge to order the state of Illinois to start paying $1 billion a month as it heads into a third year without a budget.
Lawyers for Medicaid patients made that request in a Tuesday filing in Chicago federal court, three weeks after U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow ruled Illinois is not in compliance with her previous order to continue reimbursing doctors and hospitals who treat Medicaid patients, even while there’s no state budget.
Lefkow told both sides to work out a deal on a level of payment to ensure critical medical care for low-income Illinoisans continues.
But Tuesday's filing said "the parties are at an impasse."
So the attorneys are asking for a massive increase in their monthly payments from the state. They want Illinois to pay $586 million a month until the end of the budget impasse to Medicaid providers, and another $500 million for each of the next four months to eliminate the backlog of unpaid Medicaid bills, according to the court filing.
About half of that nearly $1.1 billion monthly payment would eventually be reimbursed by the federal government, said Abdon Pallasch, a spokesman for Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza.
But in the interim, it would force the comptroller to choose which core state services get scarce state dollars, he said. If the federal judge forces the state to make the higher payments, that could crowd out money for schools, state worker paychecks, local governments or pensions, Pallasch said.
“Governor Rauner can solve this right now,” Pallasch said. “He can drop all his pet project demands and approve a budget.”
A spokeswoman for Rauner declined to comment on the filing.
A hearing in the case is set for Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.