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Quinn: GOP being political

Medicaid rolls issue ‘baloney,’ governor says

Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t exactly appreciate suggestions by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Tom Cross that he was dragging his feet on purging state Medicaid rolls of those ineligible to receive services.

“That’s complete baloney, and she knows it, and the Republicans know it,” he said. “We are going at full speed. This is all politics.”

Republicans have long made an issue of the state’s failure to recheck eligibility once a person qualifies for Medicaid benefits. They believe as many as 300,000 people are getting benefits who are no longer entitled to them because they earn too much or live out of state. They’ve gotten some political mileage out of the issue.

Quinn said that’s what is happening now, 6 weeks before the election. The Republicans are trying to gin up an issue they’ve had success with in the past. This despite the state hiring a company to scrub the Medicaid rolls of ineligible people and doing it within the time frame set out in the Medicaid reform bill.

However, it’s going to take the company until Jan. 1 to get the complicated review process operating. That’s the opening the Republicans needed.

It’s going to be interesting going forward. There are no hard numbers on the number of ineligible people on Medicaid. Lawmakers set a target to save $350 million by scrubbing the rolls, but no one knows for sure.

Bursting at the seams, less 110

The Associated Press did a little arithmetic last week to determine just how many inmates are being housed in Illinois prisons.

Using publicly available records, the AP totaled up the number of inmates housed in a prison system designed to hold 33,700 prisoners. The AP determined there are 49,154 people behind bars, a new record for the state. In fact, the AP’s number said the old record was broken by 19.

Not so fast, countered the Department of Corrections.

The agency said the accurate figure for the inmate population is 49,044, fully 110 less than what the AP came up with.

Whew, that’s a relief. Rather than a prison system bursting at the seams, it turns out there’s space for 91 more inmates before the state sets a new incarceration record.

And all this time we thought things were getting bad.

Closure plan

still operative

Of course, even the administration’s figures show the prison system to be just a smidgen over its design capacity.

It also looks like its prediction about prison population trends was a little off. In its budget book, the administration said the prison population was trending down and predicted an average of fewer than 46,000 inmates through the year.

That little oops hasn’t stopped the administration from trying to close five prisons with a loss of 1,700 additional beds.

Driven governor

Quinn made an appearance last week urging people to take a pledge not to text and drive.

Easy for the governor to say, right? He can sit in a state car and text all he wants while a driver takes him wherever.

It turns out Quinn does, indeed, have a valid Illinois driver’s license. And, his staff said, he does drive himself around in his Chevrolet Impala.

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