Gov. Pat Quinn last week signed Medicaid reform legislation aimed at saving Illinois at least $624 million over five years.

The law calls for streamlining services by expanding coordinated care, improving the efficiency of the prescription drug program, tightening the eligibility process and increasing civil penalties for abuses.

“Medicaid reform is one part of my plan to stabilize our budget. A priority of my administration is eliminating inefficiencies, so that we are saving money while delivering better services to those that most need them,” Quinn said in a statement.

The law also phases out the practice of pushing off some payments incurred in one fiscal year into the next. The state’s Medicaid program provides coverage to 2.8 million low-income individuals, families and people with disabilities.

In another cost saving move, Illinois is considering issuing a request for proposals for a consultants’ study on how to implement changes to state retiree healthcare contributions.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability had planned to meet Wednesday to discuss changes, such as how an increase in premiums for retirees with higher incomes could be implemented and to weigh issuing an RPF to study the issue.

The meeting was cancelled due to a major winter storm that was expected to hit the region Tuesday and Wednesday.

The state has an actuarially based unfunded liability for other post-employment non-retirement benefits of $27.1 billion. The annual required contribution to fully fund the liability in 2009 was $1.8 billion, but the state contributed just $604 million.

Changes require legislative action and an agreement with state unions.

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