SPRINGFIELD - Although Illinois' Senate Republican caucus voted as a bloc against the Democrats' effort to raise the state's cigarette tax by $1 a pack, the measure passed by a 31 to 28 vote Tuesday, and will proceed to the Governor's desk.
SB 2194 also requires hospitals to provide free care for indigent patients, a tax State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) referred to in Senate Executive Committee as a "redistribution" costing private insurers higher rates to fund the charity care. An Illinois Hospital Association representative said that practice has been in effect in the past, the present, and will be in the future.
“I applaud Speaker Madigan and Leader Currie and members of the House of Representative for passing legislation to increase the price of cigarettes to help eliminate Medicaid's $2.7 billion deficit, improve the health of people across Illinois, and bring back federal dollar-for-dollar matching funds.
“We need to take decisive action to protect Illinois’ Medicaid system from collapse. The cigarette tax is not just good fiscal policy, but good health policy. Adding a dollar per pack will help 60,000 people quit smoking, prevent 60,000 deaths from smoking-related conditions and keep 80,000 kids from taking up smoking in the first place.
“Today’s action will improve the health of our people and lower the burden of smoking-related conditions on our Medicaid system, while helping to fill the $2.7 billion Medicaid shortfall and stabilize the system for those that need it.
“We hope Senators will follow their colleagues in the House, and quickly pass this legislation, which is critical to rescuing Medicaid.”