URBANA — The state has selected four new contractors for state retiree health coverage, effective Jan. 1, 2014, and Health Alliance Medical Plans isn't among them.
That will require 6,000 retirees who get their care through the Carle health system to change where they go for medical care by the end of the year, Health Alliance spokeswoman Jane Hayes said Wednesday morning.
The state awarded new contracts Tuesday for Medicare Advantage Plans for retirees to Aetna Life Insurance Co., Humana Health, Humana Benefit Plan and United Healthcare.
Here is the state's procurement website for the contracts.
Hayes said Health Alliance was already receiving calls about the new contracts this morning, and is urging retirees to call their associations or the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.
"This is an especially vulnerable population," she said of retirees. "They use more medical resources."
Health Alliance currently covers 15,000 state retirees and submitted a bid to cover retirees statewide, Hayes said.
"We think we submitted a competitive bid," she said.
None of the selected insurers has Carle in its provider networks, which is why current retirees in the state system would have to change where they go for health care, Hayes said.
And regardless of what other providers are available for retirees in their areas through other insurers that were selected, she said, she doubts any physician groups could absorb that many Carle patients — especially with more patients gaining coverage health coverage next year under the Affordable Care Act.
Hayes said she doesn't know what, if any, recourse Health Alliance has on the contract decisions.
"Protesting to an organization that doesn't seem to care about leaving 6,000 retirees high and dry might be a futile effort," she said.
State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he is "very concerned" about the contract decisions and still trying to get all the details Wednesday.
Retirees were detached from employees for health coverage contracts as part of an agreement between American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Gov. Pat Quinn's office, he said.
"The thing that I asked all along was what is the coverage area. Will people be able to see a local physician, and the administration assured us all along that, yes, you'll be able to see a local physician," Rose said.
"By the way, does this seem reminiscent of two years ago," Rose also said.
Health Alliance wasn't selected for state employee and retiree health coverage in 2011 contract selections, setting off a public uproar, legislative action and a court challenge, and was eventually restored as an insurer for employees and retirees.
The new contracts stand to affect many, but not all, of the state's retired teachers, according to Illinois Retired Teacher's Association Executive Director Jim Bachman.
Those in the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program who are Medicare-eligible, about 45,000 people, would be affected, and those who aren't would remain in their current plans, he said.
Bachman said the majority of the association's members are concerned about the change since details remain unknown, but the biggest fear many had was that they'd lose their traditional Medicare plan.
The IRTA isn't taking a position on the contracts, since the state has the right to make a plan change, he said.
"We're just waiting to see the details of the plan before we can make any judgment," he said.