by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If seeing their city transformed into a war zone isn’t bad enough, residents of Chicago are also feeling a budget pinch thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Sarah Hurtubise explains for the Daily Caller.
Chicago’s public health system is facing a massive $67 million shortfall after an early adoption of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion cost much more than expected, Crain’s Chicago Business reports.
Cook County, which encompasses Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, made a deal with the Obama administration to get an early start on the health care law’s Medicaid expansion in 2012.
But the resulting program, CountyCare, is costing millions more than original projections. The prototype Medicaid expansion lost Cook County $21 million in the first six months of operation — that’s expected to balloon to $63.5 million by November 30, according to the Chicago Tribune.
CountyCare was expected to pad the city’s coffers. In 2013, state officials projected that the new system would bring in at least $28 million by November, Crain’s reported. The cost of caring for the influx of Medicaid patients has busted projections partially because the newly insured are seeking pricier medical care than expected.
While the program has already failed to meet budget projections this year, the problem is likely to get worse in 2015. Medicaid expansion patients are required to use only CountyCare medical facilities for the first year — meaning the county will end up reimbursing itself for much of its spending on CountyCare coverage.
In January, however, CountyCare patients will be allowed to access other health plans and medical providers. That could leave the expanded Medicaid program to cover patients with the most expensive health problems, along with the least ability to pay. If the public health system loses more inexpensive patients next year, the budget crunch will get even worse.