Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to email@example.com
April 10, 2017
In This Issue:
Ø State Employee Insurance Plan Could Change
Ø Bills Pass Quickly Out of the House
Ø Another Stop Gap Funding Measure Passes
Ø Computer Science Promoted for Education
Ø April Declared Seed Month
Ø Gun Owners Rally in the Capitol
Ø Break Offers Time to Listen--Reflect
State Employee Insurance Plan Could Change
Proposed changes to the state employee health insurance package are almost certain to be delayed by two legal issues. Normally information about the benefit package is distributed about this time of year, sign-up occurs in May and the program begins on June first.
What could delay implementation of the new plan are a court injunction preventing the Governor from implementing his final labor contract offer to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union and a challenge to the contract award for administering the state’s medical benefit plan. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) heard details about the possible delay and the proposed plan at a hearing last week.
Central Management Services (CMS) Acting Director Mike Hoffman testified that if the court does not permit the Governor to implement his contract offer in the next few weeks, the current benefit plan will be extended. A new plan will be implemented as soon as possible during the fiscal year.
Cigna, who currently administers the benefit package, has challenged the awarding of the contract to Aetna for next year. Cigna contends Aetna’s proposal does not meet the requirements set out in the request for proposal and has appealed the matter to the Executive Ethics Commission.
The proposed state employee health and life insurance plan creates a multi-tiered system to reduce liabilities and increase overall revenue contributions from employees. The Acting Director said the goal was to split the cost of the program so the state’s responsibility would be about 60 percent, similar to other states and private businesses. However, the changes would not affect the Medicare advantage HMO plans currently utilized by retirees.
The current FY2017 insurance plan benefits would be the “platinum” plan under the new proposal and increase monthly plan premiums by 120 percent. Three other options would reduce or have no premium but require higher deductibles and co-payments. According to CMS, employees could keep their existing doctors and other providers.
CMS also testified that the lack of a budget appropriation for health insurance has prevented the state from paying claims and resulted in a backlog that now exceeds $4.2 billion. Interest on the unpaid claims exceeds $493 million and could reach $1 billion in the next year. This is money that should be used to pay claims.
With healthcare and drug costs continuing to grow at near double digit percent levels and considering the state’s fiscal crisis, Director Hoffman said the state must try to reduce benefit costs.
Bills Pass Quickly Out of the House
A large number of bills were debated last week in the House and most passed with bipartisan support. Here is a sampling of bills now in the Senate.
HB732: Amends the Illinois Roofing Industry Licensing Act and would require any business that wants to do their own repair or to replace a roof on their buildings using their own labor to first obtain a roofing license and know how to do the work safely.
HB2449: Amends the Illinois Service Member Civil Relief Act and would allow service members ordered to relocate for at least 90 days to terminate or suspend certain contracts for service. It also provides that the contracts could be reinstated if the service member is no longer on active military service.
HB706: Amends the Safe Pharmaceutical Disposal Act to ensure that medical professionals can take possession and dispose dangerous medications following a death.
HB524: Provides that pharmaceuticals disposed of under the Act may be destroyed in a drug destruction device. This change allows law enforcement agencies to dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired pharmaceuticals instead of relying on the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency to do so.