Illinois Medicaid reform is in jeopardy

Arbitrator's ruling threatens a big savings program
Chicago Tribune Editorial for June 28, 2013 

Illinois has removed from its Medicaid rolls this year more than 60,000 people who didn't qualify for the government benefit. That's an astonishing number, and it appears there are still many people getting benefits who don't qualify.

A contractor hired by the state is churning through hundreds of thousands of questionable Medicaid accounts, part of a state effort to save the enormously expensive health care program for low-income people.

We've strongly backed this effort, which had bipartisan support in the Illinois legislature. Every dollar spent on people who are ineligible for benefits — some of them don't even live in Illinois — is a dollar not available for essential state services.

Now this vital scrub of Medicaid is in jeopardy, thanks to a grievance filed by AFSCME, the state employees union. An arbitrator recently ruled that the state couldn't hire the contractor, Virginia-based Maximus Health Services Inc., to do the job.

The work should be done by the state's union workforce, ruled the arbitrator, Edwin Benn.

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