Sen. Frerichs: Retirees shouldn't wait to enroll
SPRINGFIELD — Although there still could be some change to the Medicare Advantage program, state Sen. Mike Frerichs is urging retired state employees to attend upcoming seminars on the health care plan and to sign up during the enrollment period that runs from Nov. 12 to Dec. 13.
The Quinn administration and the Department of Central Management Services are working to see if Urbana-based Health Alliance can be added to the retiree health care contract that already has been awarded to four providers, United Healthcare, Humana Health Plan, Humana Benefit Plan of Illinois and Aetna Life Insurance Co.
Health Alliance underbid competitors for the state contract by potentially millions of dollars, but its bid was thrown out on a technicality.
"There are negotiations, and the administration is working to make some changes to do something differently, but I don't want to get people's hopes up unnaturally," Frerichs, a Champaign Democrat, said Thursday. "We may get some sort of a resolution that creates a new open enrollment period in the future, but that will be in the future and there will be an opportunity to switch later if we work that out.
"Right now they should go ahead and enroll."
In most East Central Illinois counties, retirees can choose from a United Healthcare PPO and Coventry Advantra HMO. Information on the options is available at: http://www2.illinois.gov/cms/Employees/benefits/trail/state/Pages/default.aspx.
In the meantime, CMS and local legislators are hosting eight seminars in the next three weeks in East Central Illinois:
— 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Bremer Center at Danville Area Community College, 2000 E. Main St., Danville.
— 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Illinois Terminal, 45 E. University Ave., C.
— 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Tuscola Community Building, 122 W. North Central St., Tuscola.
— 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Ave., Charleston.
The coverage period for the new retiree Medicare Advantage program begins Feb. 1.
"I'm hopeful we'll have some positive changes," Frerichs said. "There are lawyers working on this, but I don't think this should change people's plans for the enrollment. We don't want people to think that they should hold off on enrolling with the hope that something better is imminent. We are working with the governor's office, but there are limitations on what can be done without putting the state at risk of lawsuits and other things."