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Rep. Ramirez questions the state’s estimates of health benefits for noncitizens

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Budget negotiations for the next fiscal year continue behind closed doors in Springfield. Part of the conversation includes the costs of expanding health care benefits to qualifying non-citizens.

Cost estimates for the health care program for qualifying residents 42 and older regardless of immigration status are over a billion dollars. Because of that, Republican lawyers opposed the program because the state’s revenue estimates are much lower than previously projected.

Congresswoman Delia Ramirez is not part of the negotiations at the state level, but she questions the Governor’s estimates. As a former state representative, she advocated for the program that provides Medicaid-like benefits to qualifying non-citizens including DACA recipients and permanent residents who have lived in the US for less than five years.

“We need to make sure we’re protecting something as vital as providing health care coverage to people, regardless of legal status, we also need to get the numbers right. I believe, at the moment, that numbers are thrown in. Sometimes we do that in the budget, to create fear.”

The state’s estimates come from a consulting group commissioned by the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services. The report’s authors acknowledge “substantial uncertainty” in the numbers.

Capitol News Illinois reports that Governor JB Pritzker is looking at options to change the program to reduce costs such as reexamining reimbursement rates or potential copays based on income.

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