Illinois could lose $4B a year under Republican health care plan

The doctor who runs the Cook County Health and Hospitals System says Illinois could lose $4 billion a year under the latest plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

But it turns out our neighbor to the north benefits from a special provision in the Senate Republican plan.

Wisconsin would get hundreds of millions of extra federal dollars under the plan, and Republican leaders desperate to round up votes may offer even more to several other states.

Before Wisconsin’s special deal in the latest attempt at Obamacare repeal, there was the "cornhusker kickback." As top Democrats enacted Obamacare seven years ago, they offered two hundred million extra dollars for Nebraska. After a huge uproar, they took it out of the final law.

After the Associated Press revealed the hundreds of millions of extra dollars earmarked for Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said it "recogniz(ed) the innovative reforms of Wisconsin."

By contrast, latest estimates are Illinois would lose $4 billion a year.

“In essence, what it does is it provides a large transfer of monies from states that did expand access to coverage under the Affordable Care Act to states that did not,” said Dr. Jay Shannon.

Some experts praise the Republican plan for capping federal Medicaid spending, and for letting individual states decide what to do with it. 

“I think that, if we make our state lawmakers accountable and give them the authority to really re-imagine health care, I think that we will be doing a much better job than what Washington has been doing,” said Naomi Lopez Bauman, director of health care policy at the Goldwater Institute.

Politico reported Republicans desperately seeking the vote of Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski may exempt her state and perhaps several others  from their bill's health care spending limits, in effect allowing a version of Obamacare to continue there.

“What the authors of this bill are focused on, is passing legislation that will improve healthcare and ultimately improve people's lives,” Vice President Mike Pence said.

Republicans have until the end of next week to pass their plan with only their own votes. After September 30th, they'll need at least eight Democrats to join them, which is very unlikely.

Illinois state law now requires health insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. The Republican Obamacare repeal plan would not change that.