Ill. Gov. Quinn wants Medicaid cuts, cigarette tax hike

Gov. Pat Quinn says saving the Illinois Medicaid program will require cutting services, raising cigarette taxes and cutting payments to health-care providers.

Aides to the Democratic governor told The Associated Press on Thursday that Quinn is proposing a cigarette tax increase of $1 per pack. They expect the tax to generate about $337 million, which would then be matched by the federal government.

His plan also would end health care services for about 215,000 people and limit the use of programs that the federal government deems optional. Quinn says without action, Medicaid costs will squeeze spending on education and public safety.

"Having a system that is out of whack, out of budget out of balance will harm other parts of our government in Illinois and harm the people of our state," Quinn said.

The proposal that Quinn announced Thursday calls for a $675 million cut in the amount paid to doctors, hospitals and others who provide care to the poor.

Republicans are saying they oppose the tax increase, but Quinn noted cigarette taxes were raised several times under past Republican governors.

A bipartisan working group addressing Medicaid cuts has yet to release its proposal.