Seniors facing health care crisis, courtesy of Quinn
By Josh Harms
I wanted to give everyone a quick update about something that is affecting many of our retired state employees and could end up costing taxpayers more money.
Illinois recently rolled out a new Medicare Advantage program that was intended to reduce the cost of health care given to retirees in state-managed pension systems.
However, due to changes imposed by Gov. Pat Quinn and his administration, many seniors have been receiving notices that they will no longer be able to keep their current health insurance provider and, in some cases, they will not be able to keep their current doctor.
Particularly affected are retirees enrolled in the Champaign-Urbana-based Health Alliance medical care insurance system, and the 6,000 retirees possessing existing doctor-patient relationships with the medical professionals affiliated with the Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Physician Group.
These individuals have been instructed by the Quinn administration to find new health care providers no later than Jan. 1, 2014. Many of these individuals have two or more chronic illnesses, and face challenges in moving their care to a new insurer or physicians' clinic.
Health Alliance had submitted a Medicare Advantage proposal that would have been less expensive to the state than the accepted proposals from three nationwide health insurance firms, but the Department of Central Management Services had imposed specifications that were allegedly designed to prevent Health Alliance's bid from being opened or considered.
The General Assembly's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability held a hearing on the Medicare Advantage situation on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Members of all four caucuses have voiced their anger at the Quinn administration for the botched rollout of the Medicare Advantage program and for throwing out Health Alliance's bid, which happened to be the lowest of all four bids.
Gov. Quinn and his administration should have notified seniors of this change long before now and it is deplorable that he would place them into this terrible crisis with their health care.
On Tuesday, legislation was filed by Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield), House Bill 3719, to increase the General Assembly's power to examine and oversee administrative decisions involving Medicare benefits. I am co-sponsoring this bill because I believe this is a great piece of legislation that is very much needed right now.
The situation continues to evolve and I expect there will be more hearings on this matter, but for now it appears that Gov. Quinn intends to force retired state employees to choose a new health insurance provider.
State Rep. Josh Harms, R-Watseka, represents the 106th District.