The [Monday] Papers
"Savings from cuts to the Illinois Medicaid program have fallen short by $464 million, about 30 percent of the expected $1.6 billion in projected savings that Gov. Pat Quinn pushed for last year," AP reported last week.
"In the first public report on how cuts to the health care safety-net program are being carried out, Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Julie Hamos detailed the actual savings of cost-cutting measures so far. Hamos reported to the House Human Services Appropriation Committee on Thursday in Springfield."
"Some cuts have gone as planned, such as dropping Medicaid coverage for thousands of working parents and eliminating coverage of dental care and visits to chiropractors for adults.
"We were able to achieve a billion dollars in health savings and that's never been done in Medicaid history," Hamos told The Associated Press in a telephone interview after giving the report.
Perhaps because Democrats have traditionally blocked such cuts, instead of enacting them.
"But a projected savings of $350 million from making sure only people who are eligible receive Medicaid was too optimistic, Hamos said."
Which is what Democrats have traditionally argued when Republicans have claimed massive Medicaid fraud.
"An outside vendor started the work in January. Reston, Va.-based Maximus Inc. was hired to improve the system, eliminate a backlog and make recommendations to state caseworkers.
"Hamos said that it takes time to implement a large effort to check the eligibility of 2.7 million Medicaid recipients. Her new estimate for savings from the eligibility crackdown is $150 million for this year.
"This company had to hire and train 500 people. They had to rent office space," Hamos said. "The company (Maximus) believes (this process) should take seven months. We made them do it in 90 days, and by Jan. 2, they were up and running."
Maybe they could have hired some people on Medicaid.
"Another obstacle to achieving all the projected cuts: The federal government denied permission to carry out some planned cuts that would have changed the way people are deemed to be eligible for nursing home care, preventing savings of several million dollars."
Maybe because simply changing eligibility rules doesn't change a person's need for nursing home care.
"The Illinois Hospital Association won changes to rules that will mean $30 million in cost savings won't be achieved, Hamos said. The state had planned to stop paying for entire hospital stays when certain mistakes happen - such as a surgical sponge left inside a patient. But that plan 'was basically gutted,' Hamos said, after the hospital association made its case to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
I suppose the state figured the hospitals should pay for their own mistakes, but how can they afford to when they spend so much money bending legislators to their will?
"The Medicaid cuts limit patients to four prescription drugs per month without prior approval. Rep. Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat, said he'd like to see future reports on how that's going for people with severe mental illnesses. If most are gaining authorization for their drugs because they clearly need them, Harris said, it may be wiser to drop the red tape.
"Are we just creating bureaucracy?" he asked. "I think we need to be monitoring for unintended consequences that push the costs out someplace else."
But that's the name of the game. Costs aren't being cut, they're being shifted. To the shafted.
But what happened in the case is a secret.
This isn't a new story, but that doesn't mean it's not an important story - one that should be revisited every year.
The turnout was good. And so was the money, records show, with UNO contractors writing checks for more than $24,000 to campaign funds controlled by Madigan, the Chicago Democrat whose district has grown increasingly Hispanic in recent years.
My money's on Ida Know.
At the October fund-raiser for Michael Madigan, the hosts also included the Roosevelt Group lobbying group - led by Reyes and Noonan - and the Reyes Kurson law firm.
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Posted on February 25, 2013
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