From AP - News Headlines -

Lawmakers Weigh Options on State Health Insurance Contract

Many of the 100,000 state and university employees covered by Health Alliance HMO are outraged at the possibility they will have to switch plans and doctors and possibly pay more.

The Attorney General has issued an opinion that clarifies what legislators can do about it. Legislators continue to fight back against the decision to drop Health Alliance as an option for employee medical coverage.

The Attorney General's opinion says the legislature has no say over that. But the opinion does make clear a bipartisan legislative commission can authorize or reject if Illinois acts as a self-insurer.

The state has a self-funded, Open Access Plan now. Republican Representative Chad Hays of Catlin said employees will have no choice but to sign up for it because the new HMO choice, Blue Cross Blue Shield, doesn't have a downstate network of doctors.

"There simply is not an HMO option in most of downstate Illinois, so by definition we are going to push people into an open access plan," Hays said.

The commission could then say that with so many added people, it's unaffordable for the state to offer self-funded insurance, and reject offering one completely. That may send the issue into a tailspin, with potentially no managed care option, something the state must provide. It would pit legislators who want to keep Health Alliance, against Governor Pat Quinn. His administration says dropping Health Alliance will save the state money. The insurance firm disputes that claim.

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services says it's 100 percent confident in its decision and promises that will become clear once it allowed to release more details.

The state can't do that now because Urbana-based Health Alliance is protesting the bid process.

In the meantime Hays has filed a resolution asking that the state extend until September how long employees have to choose what health insurance they want for the next year.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics