As Illinois approaches its 11th week without a state budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner has threatened to take the unprecedented step of stopping all payments to doctors, hospitals and others providing health care to the almost 363,000 state workers, university employees, retirees and others covered by the states group insurance plan.
All health care services will continue to be paid as long as possible, said Meredith Krantz, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.
However, in the near future, we will no longer have the legal authority to continue to pay health care vendors for their services, she wrote in an email Friday to The State Journal-Register.
She wouldnt say when a halt in payments to health care providers might take place. CMS is in uncharted territory with respect to funding critical state services, including health care services for all plan participants enrolled in the State Employees Group Insurance Program, she said.
The Rauner administration previously told lawmakers that the impasse would not affect their health, dental and life insurance. The administration passed that information on to lawmakers, several of whom have posted it on their websites.
In explanation of the apparent reversal in stance, Krantz said, Employee benefits have not be stopped or reduced in any way. But she said that until now, CMS has been able to continue to pay health care providers from fiscal year 2015 revenues.
All applicable fiscal 2015 funding has now been exhausted, she said. Without a budget in place, there is no appropriation or legal authority to continue to pay health care providers.
The possibility of all payments to health care providers being stopped until the budget impasse is resolved was first announced last week in an obscure posting on the CMS website.
The announcement took the largest union representing state workers by surprise.
The state has never said, Were not playing claims, before, said Anders Lindall, spokesman for Chicago-based Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Lindall called the new information from the state very disturbing.
We will do everything possible to correct it, he said. Its further evidence that our state is breaking down.
Dental payments halted
In addition to the administrations threatened shutoff of reimbursements to health care providers and health insurance companies, the state recently halted all payments to dentists for services to the 359,325 state workers, university employees, retirees and dependents with dental coverage.
The CMS notice says a few health care providers in the states self-insured plans #x2014; which include Delta Dental, Cigna, and the HealthLink and Coventry open access plans #x2014; have asked people insured through the state plan to pay cash at the time of service to cover the total cost.