State Senators Mike Frerichs and Shane Cultra recently joined a bipartisan coalition of 34 Senators to request details from Governor Quinn and HFS Director Julie Hamos on cost savings projected from dropping the State's group health insurance contract with Health Alliance.
Read the letter these 34 Senators sent by clicking the image below:
Read the news release from Senators Frerichs and Cultra after the jump.
From the Illinois State Senate
State Senator Michael Frerichs, 52nd Legislative District
State Senator Shane Cultra, 53rd Legislative District
For Immediate Release: May 9, 2011
For More Information: Rachel Craddock 217/782.0663
FRERICHS, CULTRA REQUEST DETAILS OF COST-SAVINGS IN HEALTH ALLIANCE DECISION
SPRINGFIELD, IL –State Senators Michael Frerichs (D – Champaign) and Shane Cultra (R – Onarga) recently joined a bipartisan coalition of 34 Senators to request details from Governor Pat Quinn and Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Director Julie Hamos on cost savings projected from dropping the State’s group health insurance contract with Health Alliance.
“My colleagues and I are simply requesting that the Governor’s office and HFS share with us the facts behind their claims of huge cost savings,” said Frerichs. “Right now, there are disagreements about whether dropping Health Alliance will save the State money, or actually increase costs. I want to see how they arrived at their number before I’ll believe in any cost savings.”
“Our constituents need to realize that we are taking this situation very seriously and are working to seek a common-sense solution that will protect patients, providers and employees,” said Cultra. “This decision, if it takes place, could adversely affect a minimum of 30,000 constituents from Senator Frerichs’ and my districts.”
On April 7, 2011, the State announced that it would not renew its contract with Health Alliance, but rather offer only Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois as the sole HMO provider for the State’s group health insurance program. Because Blue Cross Blue Shield’s provider network does not extend outside the Chicago-land area, the decision would leave tens of thousands of people in downstate Illinois without access to quality, affordable healthcare.
The devastating decision was justified by claims of $102 million in cost savings for the State next year and $1 billion in savings over 10 years. However, these claims of cost savings seem to be based on faulty hypothetical assumptions and not reality.
“All the evidence on dropping Health Alliance, as I understand it, points to an increased cost to the State—not hundreds of millions in savings,” said Frerichs. “If my colleagues and I are missing some information, we just ask that the Governor and HFS provide us with that so we can make a better, more informed decision.”
“By their nature, HMOs will save the state and patients over the course of the contract,” said Cultra. “Quite frankly, the numbers that we have seen so far from HFS are not believable. It is going to be nearly impossible to rework the vast network that Health Alliance has managed to create across the region. How can a Chicago-centered insurance provider expect to establish a network so quickly without disruption to the patients?”
Health Alliance has protested the decision, and a review of the protest is pending. The State’s new group health insurance contracts must also be approved or rejected by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA). Senator Frerichs is a member of COGFA and plans to vote against the new contracts.