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Thousands of non-citizens to be moved off state taxpayer-subsidized health care

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(The Center Square) – The Pritzker administration is set to remove thousands of non-citizens over the age of 65 from the state’s taxpayer-subsidized health care plan in an effort to save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Officials with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services announced the changes during Tuesday’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

“They are going to be reviewing current members of the migrant health care programs, both 65 and over and as we heard today from 42 to 64, to find out which of those people may actually qualify for either free market health care services, Obamacare if you will, or if they don’t they may be eligible for either Medicare or Medicaid based on their age,” DeWitte told the Center Center.

The move could save up to $14 million in state tax dollars. Even more would be saved if the move later includes those over the age of 42.

“They’re talking about 6,000 people, which she said would be a savings of $14 million and I’m sure … that lower age bracket will probably provide equal savings if they were able to move some of those folks off the migrant program,” said DeWitte, R-St. Charles.

In 2020, Illinois taxpayers began subsidizing health care coverage of enrolled non-citizens over the age of 65. In 2021, the state expanded that to include enrolled non-citizens over the age of 42. In November, the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission approved a measure to investigate the cost of migrant health care subsidies.

A report from HFS dated Feb. 13 showed 15,773 individuals in the Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors program with a per-person cost of $1,173.71. For the 16,966 in the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults between 55-64, the per-person cost is $1,164.86. For the 36,761 in the HBIA program for those 42-54, the per-person cost is $754.92.

The total taxpayer cost from July 2022 to June 2023 is $618.5 million.

State Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, said HFS’s announcement Tuesday is a positive development for taxpayers.

“I think the department is using all the tools within their disposal to contain costs in this program,” Cunningham told The Center Square. “I think what they proposed today is very constructive.”

The program is budgeted for $550 million, but projected costs pushed it closer to $770 million.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposes spending $629 million on the issue for the coming fiscal year that begins July 1.

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