Rauner to decide if he should diminish his own power related to healthcare waiver
It is now up to Gov. Bruce Rauner to decide if he can file a federal healthcare waiver without the General Assembly’s approval.
During the May 29 House floor debate, HB 4165, which would mandate that both the House and Senate concur with the governor on any waiver that seeks to reduce Medicaid healthcare benefits, was postponed for consideration, but then finalized without any GOP approval before it appeared on the Senate floor on May 31.
Like state representatives, Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) adamantly rejected the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria).
Righter questioning how the bill diminishes power.
“If my employer changes the health plan I am on so that I pay a larger front-end deductible, but my coverage on the back end for catastrophic healthcare is increased, were my benefits diminished?” Righter asked.
Koehler said Righter’s question was not pertinent to the discussion since the bill only applies to Medicaid waivers.
“There may be a fine line, but let’s join together as the administration and the legislator, and let’s seek the waiver,” Koehler said.
Righter said the reason he was asking all the questions regarding diminishment was because some recipients want different coverage than others.
“This was not necessary when the Quinn Administration was working on the 1115 waiver, and it is not necessary when the Rauner Administration is working on these issues either,” Righter said, urging a "no" vote.
Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) also questioned the bill at length and noted that his opposition is specifically based on the timing of the bill.
“If an opportunity came down next month, we would have to wait until next January for the legislature to act on responding to that, whereas the Executive Branch could seek that waiver immediately,” Syverson said.
Countering, Koehler said that he could see that happening theoretically, "but I think the reality is that we know there is plenty of lead time when rules change at the federal level, which would allow for certain waivers to be sought after.”
The bill is just a conversation, according to Koehler.
The Senate eventually passed the bill 35-20 without any GOP approval.