Bellock urges public hearing to discuss future of Medicaid program

Rep. Patti Bellock has long been a champion for those who need state assistance. Unfortunately, over the years, the Medicaid system has gotten weighed down, become too costly and nearly unsustainable. Reform in Illinois of the Medicaid system has been no easy task.

For her entire tenure in the House, Rep. Bellock has led House Republicans through the complicated issue standing up for those in need by fighting to save Medicaid.   In 2012, she succeeded in passing key reforms that would secure Illinois' failing Medicaid system. She is standing up again, demanding and successfully securing a public hearing to discuss recent actions that might halt reforms passed by the General Assembly in the 2012 Saving Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act.

That public hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 3 p.m. in the Michael A. Bilandic Building in Chicago - C-600, 6th floor.

Actions leading to the hearing
  • In September of 2012, Maximus, a private firm, was hired by the state of Illinois to review client Medicaid eligibility under the Saving Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act. Hiring a third party vendor was deemed a key reform to safeguard Medicaid benefits for those who qualified for coverage. So far this year, Maximus found evidence and HFS agreed that 110,000 individuals currently on Medicaid did not meet eligibility criteria. 
  • In June of this year, an arbitrator ruled that the state must terminate the contract with Maximus by the end of 2013; additionally the work of reviewing eligibility should be conducted henceforth by bargaining unit employees. The state has until Sept 18th to appeal this ruling.
  • On August 22nd, Rep. Patti Bellock sent a letter to the Chairman of the House Appropriations Human Services Committee urging a hearing be held prior to the September 18th deadline to discuss appealing the arbitrator's decision that hiring a private company to review Medicaid eligibility was in violation of the state Master Contract with AFSCME. (Letter is at the end of the post)
  • Last week Representative Patti Bellock and Senator Dale Righter coauthored a letter to Governor Quinn expressing concern that "....the dearth of action by the administration on this issue raises concern about the implementation of the SMART Act reforms and the long term stability of the Medicaid program." (Letter is at the end of the post)
Rep. Bellock believes the state should take action to appeal the arbitrator's decision to ensure reforms designed into the SMART ACT are not compromised and that Medicaid remains a viable source of assistance for those who are truly eligible.  She wants to hear from both sides of the issue to decide how the state should proceed to make sure that those who are not eligible for benefits are removed from the rolls so that those in need of services can receive them.

Also at the hearing on Tuesday, committee members will discuss the recent intergovernmental agreement with Michigan regarding Medicaid services.