Lauren Turelli, a Lake Forest Republican running for the 58th House seat, said she supports Gov. Pat Quinn's suggestion to cut $2 billion from the Medicaid budget as a first step toward reforming the system.
Turelli, who is squaring off against Lake Bluff physician Mark Neerhof in the March 20 primary, said she also hopes to take Medicaid reform even further with a rollback of eligibility standards to pre-2002 levels, the appointment of an independent auditing firm to identify waste and fraud and a re-evaluation of provider billing practices and fee payments.
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Quinn said last week that he wants to restructure the health care program, which covers 2.7 million poor and disabled people across Illinois but hasn't yet gone into specifics.
Turelli called out special interest groups and vowed to "cut, cut some more, and then cut some more until we dig ourselves out of this hole." "That means every person or entity involved in the Medicaid program -- doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and patients -- must join together in sharing the burdens necessary to reform this out-of-control program," she said in a news release on Monday.
Neerhof, an OB-GYN with NorthShore University Health Sytem, disagrees with Turelli, saying that while Medicaid reform is needed, Quinn's plan is "the wrong first step."
Neerhof said he would promote a "bolder" strategy for reform and move toward a means-based premium assistance system that would try to provide cost-effective health care to patients in need.
Neerhof said the Quinn plan is "tinkering around the edges of the status quo" and that cutting $2 billion from the budget will only aggravate problems with access to care since the state is so far behind in paying its bills.
Neerhof and Turelli will face off on this and other issues in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters at 1 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Highland Park Country Club, 1201 Park Ave., Highland Park.
After redistricting, the 58th District is centered mostly in Lake County covering parts of North Chicago, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Deerfield, Highland Park, Northbrook and Glencoe, and a small section of Wheeling.
The 58th House seat is currently held by state Rep. Karen May, who is retiring.