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updated: 3/22/2012 3:58 PM

Senators get a lesson on Medicaid complications

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois lawmakers are getting a lesson in the challenges of cutting Medicaid.

The state Senate took the rare step Thursday of meeting as a single committee to discuss the health program, which serves nearly 3 million Illinois residents.

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Lawmakers are trying to figure out how to meet Gov. Pat Quinn's goal of cutting the program by $2.7 billion or about 20 percent.

National Medicaid expert Joy Johnson Wilson told senators she doesn't know of any other state that has cut so much in a single year.

Wilson, from the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the federal government restricts cuts in who is eligible for Medicaid, but states can cut optional services. She warns that some states have cut services and then seen a jump in spending for other services.

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