Tax dollars to pay high-end health care plans for state employees are held up in limbo and one health care analyst says it’s a result of a government not living within it’s means.


Dan Long, executive director of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, noted in the most recent COGFA report for January the bills for state employee health care continues to mount.


“The claims in the group insurance program are continuing to grow dramatically,” Long said, “and now they’re at $2.5 billion.”


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“Which means doctors and dentists and hospitals--any healthcare providers that take care of state employees--aren’t getting paid,” Long said. “And what we’re seeing then too is that the claims hold is getting to be up over the year in some cases.”


The State Journal-Register reports the capitol city’s largest hospitals are owed $76 million for the healthcare of state workers, retirees and dependents, something that one hospital administrator told the newspaper won’t result in any layoffs or downsizing of any programs, but construction of a new facility will be put on hold.


Goldwater Institute Health Policy Director Naomi Lopez-Bauman said the backlog is a result of a state overspending, “and when there’s no fiscal restraint on lawmakers spending other people’s money,” Lopez-Bauman said.


Lopez-Bauman said it’s an unfortunate result because individuals rely on health care coverage and the state is failing them.


“It goes back decades,” Lopez-Bauman said, “because the state employees have had really lavish health care plans that were simply unsustainable to begin with and you’re seeing the end result right now.”


“I think a lot of the providers were getting used to, and understood, it might be four months or six month delay in payments,” Long said, “but now as the result of no appropriation there’s not payments being made and these claims are really starting to build up.”


What this means for state employees, retirees, some lawmakers and their dependents?


“Some indication some providers are making employees pay up front now,” Long said. “I imagine a number (of beneficiaries) are getting mailings saying ‘your bill is well overdue’ because, simply, there’s no payments being made for claims in the group insurance program.”


Regardless, Lopez-Bauman said “Illinois taxpayers pay for health plans that they are not even able to buy, even if they had the money. They’re so lavish. They exceed what is being sold on the affordable care exchange.”   


Illinois is now more than seven months into the fiscal year with no appropriation authority from lawmakers in place.


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