With Illinois lawmakers struggling to agree on a state budget, the Illinois Senate unanimously passed a contingency plan … for dentists.
Illinois is literally two years behind in paying health insurance bills for state employees. It’s affecting doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers.
But dentists may soon find relief. Democratic Senator Scott Bennett is sponsoring legislation that would allow private lenders to effectively buy the debt. The dentists would get paid and the state would owe the lenders — plus interest.
It would solve the cash crunch for dentists who depend on business from state employees. But Bennett says no one’s coming out of the budget impasse a winner.
“When people want to say, ‘Are you prioritizing one group over another?’ — the simple fact is, everyone’s a loser until we get a budget here in the state of Illinois.”
Bennett says it doesn’t add any burden to taxpayers.
“They would basically give pennies on the dollar, often 90 cents or more on the dollar to vendors that are owed money from the state. But then when the state finally gets its act together and sends out payments, it then goes to the lender, who gets the full price and sometimes interest.”
But that interest is essentially paid for by taxpayers. Bennett says the legislation does not intend to prioritize dentists over other groups struggling without a state budget. He says once a budget is passed, this problem would go away.
At the end of March, Illinois owed more than $4.3 billion dollars to medical providers.