News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
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For Immediate Release

Date:  May 6, 2005/tia

SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW: MAY 2-6

SPRINGFIELD, IL – An independent report suggesting the state could save millions by implementing Medicaid reforms, a bipartisan call for new ethics reforms, and the release of the new road program highlighted a week of committee hearings in the Illinois Senate, according to State Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).

A study, conducted by the Lewin Group consulting firm and authorized by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, reached the conclusion that hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings could be achieved by shifting more Medicaid patients into managed care programs. Most employees who receive health insurance benefits through their employment are enrolled in managed care plans.

Moving Medicaid patients into managed care plans is something Senate Republicans have long advocated. Implementing meaningful Medicaid reforms will help offset the rising costs of the program and ultimately will give patients access to better health care. The Lewin study suggested managed care reforms could save taxpayers about $1.5 billion in Medicaid costs over a five-year period. The current budget hole is estimated to be as high as $2 billion and much of that cost is related to Medicaid, which has grown an average of 9 percent each year for the last five years. Only about 10 percent of Medicaid patients currently participate in a managed care plan.

Roskam also said managed care reform would yield better coverage for Medicaid recipients by matching them to a primary care provider as their “medical home.” Right now, many Medicaid patients struggle to find healthcare providers who honor the Medicaid program. Enrolling more patients in managed care would give them a greater degree of predictability with what medical providers are available to them.

In other news, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both legislative chambers this week called for significant revisions in the way allegations of wrongdoing by state employees are handled in Illinois.

Currently the law allows complaints filed with the Inspector General to be dismissed without those allegations and the reasons for them to be made public. In cases where discipline is warranted, the underlying charge and the punishment are not made public as well. But several lawmakers want the Inspector General’s final rulings to be subject to review by the Ethics Commission. Under these proposals, the final decisions by both the Inspector General and the Commission would be made public. The proponents believe more people would be willing to file complaints if there was a clear review process in place and it would also reduce the number of false charges because the information would be made public. These proposals would additionally allow individuals falsely accused to clear their names.

Finally, the Illinois Department of Transportation unveiled its proposed 6-year $9.15 billion road program. About $1.7 billion of that total is for the Fiscal Year 2006 program. Approximately 68 percent of the state program is allocated for roadway system and bridge maintenance. Senate Republicans are pleased that there appears to be less money being diverted from the Road Fund, but they believe the current proposal does not adequately meet the transportation needs of the state.

The following bills were passed by Senate Committees during the week of May 2-6:

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