Illinois Mulls Single-Payer Plan

Published May 1, 2003

The House passed H.B. 2268, the Health Care Justice Act, on April 1, and its potential $2.6 to $4 billion cost is no joke. Conservative lawmakers are saying the bill begins the implementation of a Canadian-style single-payer health care plan for Illinois.

Sponsored by State Rep. Willie Delgado (D-Chicago), the bill authorizes state government to implement a health care plan that provides access to a full range of preventative, acute, and long-term care services to all residents. The measure allows for the creation of a Bipartisan Health Care Reform Commission with members appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The commission would hold public hearings and report on February 1, 2005 and 2006.

A cost estimate prepared by the Department of Public Aid concludes, “There could be substantial and prohibitive costs when the final report is released. The bill does not contain any estimate of the future costs of comprehensive health care in Illinois.

“Last year,” the Fiscal Note continues, “we estimated the cost of this proposal could be between $2.6 billion and $4 billion annually. It is doubtful the Department could finance a comprehensive health care program without federal participation, especially given the current state of State’s fiscal condition.”

A 25 to 40 percent income tax hike would be needed to finance the Democrats’ health care proposal. The bill passed 60-45-11, achieving the bare majority needed for passage. It now goes to the State Senate for consideration.

In a letter to the editor of the Illinois Leader, Gerald Sodaro, vice president of the Illinois Coalition to Reduce Immigration wrote, “The Illinois House recently passed the Health Care Justice Act. It should have been titled the Illegal Alien Free Health Care Act. The bill states: ‘quality health care for all residents.’ Note ‘residents,’ not citizens.”

“Illinois is the fifth highest state in illegal alien residents,” Sodaro continues. “The initial cost of up to $4 billion is open-ended, because immigration is 70 percent of our population increase according to the Census Bureau. Only the Senate can prevent Illinois from becoming a magnet state for foreign welfare shoppers.”

Conrad F. Meier is managing editor of Health Care News. His email address is [email protected].