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Illinois and The Future Of Healthcare

lincoln-logs-1An Open Letter to Governor Pat Quinn
Governor of Illinois

Dear Governor Quinn,

The state of Illinois is apparently in a precarious position. There are many ongoing discussions about when Illinois will become completely insolvent. Under current law, states can not declare bankruptcy. States do have many means to stay solvent. They can levy taxes, raise tax rates, create user fees, raise user fees, raise tuition on state schools, increase user fees on state highways and roads, create emergency fees on telephone services (911 fees), sell bonds, and even have a bake sale if they’d like. They can cut back on expenditures by a variety of means. The state can pay their employees less and have their employees take limited furloughs. The state can cut back on future benefits offered. A state may lease less space or lease space in less expensive parts of their state.

Selectively skipping payment on certain bills or types of bills by design and systematically avoiding select bills to one group of service providers should not be an option. In the case of the state of Illinois, a decision was made to not pay medical providers bills for 8 months after they have provided the service. In most states it is a legal offense with penalties for the slow payment of medical services. In many states the penalty is interest for payments that take longer than 30 days. This was set up for accidental slow payments. It was not set up for the deliberate avoidance of payment.

With a democratic legislature and a democratic governor it is surprising that Illinois is working so hard at undermining the healthcare system by not paying physicians for 8 months after they have provided services. The state of Illinois and its insurer maintain that claims are processed promptly but payments are delayed until money is allocated.

The conservatives blame the financial problems of Illinois on unions, pensions and benefits. Whatever it is, this is an untenable solution. You can not have payments and the agreements to pay for services arbitrarily abrogated. This creates many problems both for the patients having services (with their medical savings plans not paying for items in the year in which the services occurred and for the providers who don’t receive payment for months and months).

Since the Affordable Health Care Act (also dubbed Obamacare) is on the way and almost here, perhaps Illinois should just drop their bankrupt and unfunded ERISA healthcare benefit and allow workers to purchase individual plans from the state panels. Illinois can then decide how much they can subsidize the health plan, and allow Obamacare to demonstrate how well it works. It certainly can not work any worse then the current democratic designed, self-funded ERISA plan they are now using to undermine the health care delivery system. If the bills that are unpaid are those of the insurers, I can not see those bills going unpaid for 8 months. You will be booted out of your healthcare insurance.

Respectfully,

Stephen M. Pribut

References:

Insurance Payment Delays Causing Hardships for UIC Employees

Illinois Claims Handler Letter on Delay of Payments