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updated: 2/28/2013 7:22 PM

Illinois Senate approves Medicaid expansion

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- An expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is one step closer in Illinois.

The state Senate passed the expansion 40-19 on Thursday. The bill now goes to the House.

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Nearly 2.8 million Illinois residents are currently covered by Medicaid, the government health program for the poor and disabled.

Starting in 2014, an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 uninsured Illinois residents would be newly eligible for coverage. The expansion would mainly benefit low-income adults who don't have children at home.

People making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $15,400 for an individual, would be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion.

The federal government would pay the entire cost of expanding Medicaid the first three years.

Gov. Pat Quinn is thanking the state Senate for approving the expansion.

Quinn says he's grateful to Senate President John Cullerton, bill sponsor Sen. Heather Steans and everyone who voted for the bill.

The governor says access to quality health care "is a fundamental right." He's urging the state House to approve the bill, which he says will improve the health of hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents and create thousands of health care jobs.

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