Medicaid legislation seeks program accountability and savings for taxpayers

Responding to reports that Illinois paid millions for medical services for persons already recorded as dead, State Sen. Sue Rezin is co-sponsoring legislation to weed out Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse; make the system work for the people who truly need the benefits, and save Illinois tax dollars.

The Illinois Auditor General reported earlier this month that the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) paid $3.7 million for medical services to about 1,100 people who were already recorded as dead.

“When it is reported that our state is paying benefits to deceased people, every recipient of Medicaid benefits and every taxpayer has a right to be outraged,” Rezin said. “It’s reports of abuse like this that prove Illinois’ Medicaid system needs to be reformed. We must restore integrity to the system.”

Senate Bill 815 states that DHFS must enter into a contract with a third-party vendor who would examine Illinois’ Medicaid rolls. That vendor would make sure Medicaid recipients on the list are eligible to receive benefits. This process would include income verification and determining whether the person is alive.

“Many families in my district have a child who is developmentally-disabled,” Rezin said. “Many of those families tell me they are fed up with the way state government is treating their child, especially when it comes to funding for programs and services. The problem for years has been those who are the most vulnerable among us are being cheated out of millions of dollars, and that has come at the hands of a Medicaid system that has failed them, other people who need the help, and the taxpayers.”

In 2013, a state-hired private contractor, Maximus, identified more than 220,000 people it said should be dropped from the Medicaid rolls. Illinois then removed more than 114,000 from the system. But, before Maximus could finish combing through the millions of more names in the system, the state pulled the company off the job. Rezin says the state has a tough time right now combing through the Medicaid rolls because of the lack of resources.

“This legislation is common sense,” Rezin said. “Verify income, hire someone to check the Medicaid rolls for abuse, and make sure people who are receiving aid are actually alive. For too long, our state government has not even come close to living up to its requirements in this area. As a result, the people who need help the most don’t always receive the funding. This legislation helps change that.”


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