Medicaid Purge In Illinois On Hold

Sep 18, 2013

Credit state of Illinois

Illinois' attempts to remove ineligible people from the state's Medicaid rolls are being delayed. It comes amid a legal fight between the state and its largest public employees' union over who should actually do the work.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the state is preparing to add hundreds of thousands of people to the Medicaid program. But first, Illinois wants to remove people who are ineligible. A private company was hired to do that, and since January, about 125-000 people have been dropped.

Henry Bayer, who's with the AFSCME union, says state employees should've had that duty.

"The state of Illinois could have accomplished the same task for $18 million less." Bayer said.

An arbitrator agreed; meaning Illinois would have to end its contract with the company months early. But State Senator Dale Righter, a Republican from Mattoon,  says a private vendor was needed because state workers weren't effective enough.

"The reason the third party contractor was insisted upon, and approved with an overwhelming, bipartisan majority in both chambers and signed by the governor, was because looking back since 2011 the history kind of demonstrated to us that we needed something more. Cause just kinda the same old statements about 'we're going to get this thing cleaned up' and the same press releases and the same 'come on now team let's go' wasn't getting it done." Righter said.

The state says its workforce has dwindled to the point where there aren't enough case workers to carry out the job. Officials say they will appeal the arbitrator's decision.