Illinois taxpayers have paid $9.2 billion for the state’s Medicaid expansion, slightly more than double what politicians initially projected. Massive cost overruns have left fewer resources for other priorities, including education, public safety, and even services for the most vulnerable. As Congress now prepares to offload more expansion costs onto state budgets, Gov. Bruce Rauner should begin the process of rolling back the Medicaid expansion before it’s too late. That means stopping new enrollment as soon as possible and letting the program gradually unwind as current enrollees improve their financial situations.
Obamacare projections vs. actual costs
In January 2014, Illinois extended Medicaid eligibility to a new class of able-bodied childless adults, as permitted by Obamacare. At the time, the administration of then-Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly promised taxpayers that the expansion would cost no more than $4.6 billion during the first three years. Those costs would initially be borne by the federal government, but the state began picking up a share of the costs starting in January 2017.