Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said it's time for state lawmakers to "step forward" and rescue the state's Medicaid system, even if requires some painful decisions.
The Democratic governor wants lawmakers to approve his plan for filling a $2.7 billion hole in the system. It includes reducing services for the poor, cutting payments to health-care providers, and raising cigarette taxes by $1 a pack.
"In order to save the system -- to rescue the system, to have a system of health care for our most vulnerable residents all across Illinois, 2.7 million people, lots of 'em children -- we have to make some fundamental changes," Quinn said.
"Now these are difficult changes, but if we don’t make those changes, we won't have a system at all."
Republicans said they're flatly opposed to the tax increase. But Quinn noted cigarette taxes were raised several times under past Republican governors.
Quinn says if lawmakers don't act, the Medicaid program will eat up money needed for other services and then collapse.
Thanks to Illinois Public Radio and the Illinois Associated Press