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dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">A state representative wants to end the practice of Illinois taxpayers picking up the tab for the healthcare of illegal immigrant children.
Illinois’ ALL KIDS program, which begin in 2006, expanded the KidCare program to cover all uninsured children not previously covered whose family income was greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That expansion included all undocumented immigrant children.
“We were told that when that bill passed there was no provision in there that would prevent that from happening,” state Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill, said. “I didn’t support it then and I don’t support it now.”
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The overall cost of the program in fiscal 2016 was $97.2 million. A recent Illinois Auditor General audit showed taxpayers in the Land of Lincoln spent more than a third, or $38 million, on illegal immigrant children for ALL KIDS in that fiscal year.
Reis said the total over eight years is more than $390 million. He has legislation that would stop the practice altogether because he says the state’s resources are so limited.
“So much of our budget is what I call hard, fixed costs,” Reis said. “So pension payments, and long-term debt payments, and real Medicaid payments, so there’s not much left to cut. So let's go after the entitlements ... We should be taking care of our own citizens.”
The AG’s report published in December also found the departments of Health and Family Services and Human Services did not identify the correct citizenship status for more than 4,500 recipients, which led to the state losing out on $2.4 million in matching federal tax dollars. An additional $2.8 million in federal reimbursement was lost the prior year, making the total federal match the state missed out on $5.2 million.
“The feds may be cutting back on that and watching that a lot more closely than the prior administration did as well,” Reis said. “But there again, we should be paying Medicaid bills where we can get federal match and not funding a program that’s not recognized by the feds, which costs us double.”
Other AG findings included nearly 160 ALL KIDS recipients getting more than 790 services after the month of their 19th birthday for more than $110,000. There were also nearly 440 individuals who appeared to be enrolled with more than one ID number.
The AG’s report said it’s five recommendations from the fiscal 2015 audit were repeated for fiscal 2016. Those included ensuring annual redetermination of eligibility and identifying the correct citizenship status for recipients that leads to loss of federal dollars.