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Illinois justices issue stay in FamilyCare case

By Chris Rizo | Nov 13, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline)-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration will resume paying health care providers under a state Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that put a hold on a judge's order to jettison an expansion of the state's FamilyCare program.

The Democratic governor has sought to expand the program without legislative approval. He has unilaterally allowed families of four making up to $83,000 a year to get coverage under the program.

His office was sued by a group of citizens who said the FamilyCare expansion was illegal because the governor lacks the authority to expand Medicaid benefits to families living so far above the federal poverty level.

Federal rules that allowed taxpayer-subsidized health care for working families without insurance earning up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $38,000 for a family of four, ended last fall.

Because the rule expired, the state can provide health insurance only to those earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level, not at 400 percent of the poverty level, as the governor did.

Cook County Circuit Judge James Epstein last month ordered the Blagojevich administration to submit plans for halting the program expansion. The state on Oct. 15 apparently stopped paying doctors who were treating thousands of patients, not just those who joined under the governor's expansion.

Under the high court's ruling, the FamilyCare program can continue to operate while the case is ongoing.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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