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Experts: Democratic candidates for governor float unworkable, expensive healthcare ideas

CHICAGO (Illinois News Network) — Several Democratic candidates for Illinois governor are floating ideas they say will improve Illinois’ healthcare outcomes, but critics of the various plans say the ideas are unworkable and expensive.

Billionaire J.B. Pritzker said in a campaign video he wants a new program called IllinoisCares.

“We should be focused on expanding affordable healthcare, not eliminating it,” Pritzker said, criticizing the Trump administration and congressional Republicans’ attempts at dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

“That’s why I have proposed a public option, making Illinois the first in the nation that would allow anyone to buy into a state healthcare plan,” Pritzker said.

Prtizker’s plan would allow anyone to buy in to Medicaid. He said participants would pay premiums to cover additional costs, not taxpayers.

Goldwater Institute Director of Healthcare Policy Naomi Lopez Bauman said that would put more of a burden on an already strained system.

“There are already waiting lists and providers are inaccessible,” Bauman said. “That you would be actually compounding those problems and leaving the most vulnerable at the end of the line for care is utterly disgraceful.”

She also called the plan outdated and out of line with what other states are doing.

“[Other states are] actually trying to move people into private coverage,” Bauman said. “They’re actually trying to make healthcare more affordable and not add bureaucracy to an individual to be able to access a doctor or a nurse practitioner when needed.”

She adds that the plan is flawed down to its core concept.

“Any ideas that double down on government bureaucracy’s failure in the healthcare area – and really do leave the most vulnerable trapped in low quality care that’s considerably more difficult to access when you add more people, as we’ve seen in the past few years – it’s not only immoral it’s also counterproductive to what the goals of a true, robust safety net is supposed to look like,” Bauman said.

Instead, Illinois should look at increasing the ability for trained medical personnel other than doctors to accept new patients as a way to lower healthcare costs, she said.

Another Democrat candidate for governor, state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, announced his campaigns idea dubbed Letting Illinois Families Excel, or LIFE, plan this week. It would require businesses to pay for family medical leave.

“Regardless of whether you work in a white collar job for a giant corporation or whether you work in the service industry or whether you’re earning minimum wage, [you should] have access to family medical leave, so that when you have a child you can take paid time off work to care for your child, your newborn,” Biss said.

National Federation of Independent Business Illinois State Director Mark Grant said those businesses that can afford to offer paid medical leave offer it now, but a mandate will be costly for other businesses.

“All you would do is increase costs on them and in the end they’ll either give up, go out of business, or they’ll just pass the costs along to consumers,” Grant said.

Biss’ plan would also bring about universal child care and long-term care for the elderly. Biss is advocating for a graduated income tax to pay for his proposals.

Grant says that’s a bad idea.

“It kind of comes from the progressive playbook,” Grant said, “And that is we’re going to go out there and do all these great populist things and the way we’re going to pay for it, we’re going to use other people’s money.”

Democratic candidate Chris Kennedy is pushing for a single-payer system for the U.S. and wants Illinois to lead the effort.

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Experts: Democratic candidates for governor float unworkable, expensive healthcare ideas