Today, at a special hearing of the Senate Insurance Committee, Senator Frerichs heard from citizens, many of whom traveled to Springfield from the Champaign area, who testified about their concerns about the State's recent decision to drop Health Alliance. Recently, Senator Frerichs asked his constituents via email to share their stories about how this decision would impact them.
Read some of these stories from people in the 52nd Legislative District, as well as the news release, by clicking "Read More".
From the Illinois State Senate
State Senator Michael Frerichs, 52nd Legislative District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 23, 2011
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Rachel Craddock: 217/782.0663
SENATORS HEAR TESTIMONY FROM CITIZENS IMPACTED BY HEALTH ALLIANCE DECISION
SPRINGFIELD, IL –Today at a special subject matter hearing of the Senate Insurance Committee, State Senator Michael Frerichs (D – Champaign) and members of the Committee heard from concerned citizens about how the State’s recent decision to end its group health insurance contracts with HMO-providers Health Alliance and Humana will impact their lives.
“This decision to drop Health Alliance is about more than bureaucratic procedure, state contracts, or budget numbers,” said Frerichs. “It’s about potentially disrupted care, loss of long-standing patient-doctor relationships, and lack of access to quality health care at an affordable cost for tens of thousands of people in downstate Illinois.”
In his opening remarks at today’s hearing, Senator Frerichs offered to submit stories and written testimony from his constituents to the public record, and 27 citizens submitted official witness slips expressing their opposition to the decision. In addition, the Committee heard from over 10 individual citizens about the real and devastating impact the loss of Health Alliance coverage would mean for them. Read those stories shared with Senator Frerichs below, or at www.mikefrerichs.com.
“It’s important for my colleagues in Springfield and for the Governor to hear from the thousands of people who would be impacted by this decision,” said Frerichs. “I’m disappointed that no one from the Governor’s Office was present to hear these stories from real residents of Central Illinois.”
Representatives from the University of Illinois, Health Alliance, and Humana testified before the committee. Despite an invitation, no representatives from the Governor’s Office or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services attended the hearing or offered testimony.
Health Alliance filed a formal protest of the decision with the Executive Ethics Commission. Matt Brown, the Chief Procurement Officer, is expected to finish his review of the protest and announce his decision in the next few days. The Committee of Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) is meeting Wednesday morning at 8:30 in the Capitol to vote on the matter. Senator Frerichs plans to vote against this major shift to self-funded insurance plans and the accompanying increase in State costs.
Stories from Constituents of the 52nd District:
“I won't be able to attend the hearing, but wanted to share with you just one of the problems I will encounter if we (my wife and I) lose Health Alliance. I'm an emeritus professor, 74 years old, and just three weeks ago had to have a pace maker implanted. This procedure was done under Health Alliance at Carle Clinic and requires extensive and regular follow-up treatment. I must stay at Carle for my cardiology care (and care for other chronic conditions, for which I've had the same physicians for many years) and will therefore have to opt for a much more expensive health coverage plan if Health Alliance is lost to us…”
“We are two retired school teachers on a fixed income. Health insurance already stretches our budget. From what I can find out, losing Health Alliance as an insurer will increase our costs for health care, not to mention devastate us because of losing our trusted doctors. In addition, we are shocked that the state might decide to go ahead with dropping Health Alliance without a clear understanding of the costs involved. If the purpose is for the state to save money, and the money will not be saved, what a tragedy for those of us caught in the midst of things.”
“My family has received medical coverage from Carle Care, then Health Alliance since we first moved here in 1981. We have firmly established relationships with our physicians in the Carle organization and ongoing medical care for chronic conditions. If Health Alliance is actually terminated as an option we will have no choice but to switch to QCHP – BC/BS is clearly not an option for us. This will necessarily mean higher expenses for the state and for us…”
“I am very concerned with the dropping of Health Alliance as my insurance carrier for many reasons: 1. I have a disease and have been treated by my family doctor and specialist for this for four years and do not want to lose them as my knowledgeable resource for my healthcare. 2. My family doctor has doctored my husband and now our family for four generations and we do NOT want to lose the close connection we have with him. 3. We do not want our healthcare costs to go up! They are planning on raising our pensions since the money was taken out of our retirement fund, which should never have been allowed to happen. Before long a state job will not be worth having. 4. Please do not let politics dictate who gets to offer the state employees benefits!!!”
“…My husband has been a patient at Carle for 30-plus years, and he has Health Alliance through SURS. He has had a heart attack and has other ongoing health issues. He will want to continue seeing his doctors at Carle, but he may have to pay more to do so--if Health Alliance is no longer offered...I am also concerned that members of our community could lose their jobs…”
“…Carle/Health Alliance and associated doctors and other professionals have provided us and our family excellent health care since 1967. Presently, I am a cancer patient undergoing radiation treatments that will extend beyond the current contract period. I certainly cannot stop treatment nor would I want to attempt to identify and switch to another provider. I do not believe there are sufficient physicians outside of the Carle/Health Alliance association to provide care for the needs of this community. My wife and I would be forced to seek coverage under an OAP with dismissed coverage and higher costs to both us and the State. To leave "downstate" employees and retirees without the option of real HMO coverage is certainly unconscionable if not illegal…”