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Heather Steans

Illinois Medicaid expansion could carry hefty price

Illinois Medicaid expansion could carry hefty price

One thing is clear with respect to Medicaid expansion in Illinois: It will cost more than anticipated.

How much more is the question.

State lawmakers in 2013 expanded the definition of who was eligible for the federal-state program that provides free health care for the poor, with the federal government agreeing to foot the bill for new members through 2016 as part of the Affordable Care Act. The idea was a simple one: By enrolling more people in the program and stressing preventive care, officials hoped to head off more expensive medical bills down the line.

"We are not backing down," then-Gov. Pat Quinn said in 2012 when the Supreme Court affirmed a voluntary...