By Illinois Radio Network
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois is extending the All Kids program for three more years. But one lawmaker says the state never answered his questions from a decade ago.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said All Kids has been plagued by questions since former Gov. Rod Blagojevich launched it nearly 10 years ago.
Mitchell said specifically, he never got a good answer as to who was covered under the program.
“The latest (All Kids) audit said, over the last six years, the state of Illinois spent about $320 million on illegal immigrants,” he said.
Mitchell said taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for public benefits for people in this country illegally.
Mitchell has always been a critic of the program although he agrees All Kids has some successes. Parents must pay for All Kids coverage. Monthly premiums average about $40 and co-pays average about $10.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed off on the three-year extension. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or HFS, said Rauner didn’t want to see families suddenly lose All Kids coverage July 1. The extension will keep All Kids running until 2019.
Mitchell said this illustrates that once lawmakers start a program, it’s nearly impossible to end it.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road to insolvency is paved with good intentions too,” he said.
Mitchell said Medicaid, including All Kids, is the biggest driver of the cost of state government.
HFS says the current budget proposal would spend $20 billion a year on Medicaid. Illinois is set to spend less than $7 billion on public schools.
“When I first came to the General Assembly, K-12 education was the biggest expenditure of state government,” Mitchell said. “Now it’s insurance, it’s Medicaid.”