Magic Wand'?

Ill.'s Quinn proposes cigarette tax hike

Published in CSP Daily News

CARTERVILLE, Ill. -- Illinois' Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn said his magic-wand approach to resolving the state's Medicaid repayment debt would be to increase the tax on cigarettes in an effort to generate approximately $150 million in new revenue annually, said The Southern Illinoisan.

Quinn saidduring a rural heath task force hearing on Tuesday at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill., that if he had it his way, there would be a referendum question on the November ballot asking voters if they would approve an increase in cigarette taxes. I think [image-nocss] there would be a two-to-one vote in favor of such a measure, he said during the meeting of the Joint Task Force on Rural Health & Medically Underserved Areas. I think the General Assembly should actively consider that after the election. This is a very, very serious problem.

According to the report, Quinn said a tax increase of approximately 50 to 60 cents per pack on cigarettes would have the twin benefits of raising new revenue to pay down Medicaid bills as well as deterring smoking among younger people.

He raised the tax idea after he was pressed for ways to solve what some see is the most pressing issue facing rural health care providers in Illinois: the backlog of Medicaid payments. Medical providers across the state are facing a $2.9 billion Medicaid debt, and are waiting on average 90 to 120 days for repayments, the report said.