Just a few months ago Illinois lawmakers fretted that the state's overextended Medicaid program was on the verge of collapse. They cut services for the low-income people in the program, canceled coverage for about 26,000 people and raised taxes -- $2.7 billion combined -- to shore it up.
So what is one of the first things they may vote on in 2013? A plan to add as many as 500,000 to 600,000 people to the state Medicaid rolls. Good grief.
Illinois is once again chasing federal dollars and thinking no further than the present. All they see is that Uncle Sam will fund the program 100 percent. But only the first few years will be fully funded. Then a portion of the costs will shift to the state. Many dollars will go away but the responsibility for all those extra people will not.
Illinois remains mired in a deep budget hole. Before you know it, lawmakers will be scrambling again to keep Medicaid solvent and prevent it from squeezing out every other state program.