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It wasn’t all about reform concerns

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* There was a lot of talk from Chicago Democrats in the Senate yesterday about how killing a properly negotiated state contracts was setting a very bad precedent

An effort to overturn this year’s new health-insurance contracts for state employees and extend Health Alliance’s contract for two years failed Wednesday in the Illinois Senate.

On a 28-28 vote, the Senate failed to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a bill that would have extended for two years contracts that expired June 30. The measure also would have given a legislative panel explicit authority to throw out contracts awarded by state agencies. […]

But on Wednesday, 13 senators — almost all of them Democrats and most from the Chicago area — voted against the override after originally voting for the bill or not voting. One Democratic senator who previously voted “yes” didn’t vote Wednesday, and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, changed his previous “yes” vote to “present.”

They’re right that this is a very bad precedent. The separation of powers questions are a big problem with this idea. But what’s missing here is that Blue Cross won the bid to supply the coverage. Blue Cross employs a whole lot of people in Chicago. Ergo, hometown pressure. Don’t discount that.

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s office also worked this bill hard, which definitely helped kill the veto override. Unlike the “Smart Grid” bill and the gaming bill, the governor didn’t demagogue this issue. It worked. Perhaps a lesson could be learned?

* More

State Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, said the failure of the override was an unwelcome surprise.

“It’s the old story that Chicago is dictating policy. This is a slap in the face to downstate,” said Cultra, who represents scores of Central Illinois constituents affected by the switch.

Opponents said the legislature should not intervene in an area that is the responsibility of the executive branch.

“Where does it stop?” said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.

There’s fear by some Downstaters that if Health Alliance goes under because it lost its longtime contract, then Blue Cross might be able to raise its rates when the next contract negotiation comes along.

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- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - roymoran1975 - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 5:43 am:

    I would recommend this health insurance plan i found through “Penny Health” to anyone with a growing family who is looking to minimize their medical expenses.

  2. - Anonymour - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 6:14 am:

    Speaking as a Sox fan, that restaurant deal isn’t just sweet; it’s an enormous taxpayer ripoff. I’d use accurate, colorful language to describe it, but Rich would ban me for life.

  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 8:24 am:

    The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority spent $6.9 million to build Bacardi at the Park for Reinsdorf. Fortunately, Big Jim was there to look out for taxpayers’ interests.

    From the Trib:

    –”We said to Jerry, ‘Jerry can we have part of the profits?’ and he said no,” former Gov. Jim Thompson, who was the agency’s board chairman when the deal was made, said in an interview. “We said, OK.’

    Way to hang tough, big fella.

    This week is like a bad dream. Every big-time politician is shilling for multi-millionaires who want to rip off the public.

    Geez, whatever happened to capitalism? You know, private investment? Reinsdorf could have built that restaurant with the change he’d find in his couch cushions.

  4. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 9:15 am:

    I too am worried about Health Alliance. When President Obama pushed for the profit percentage cap in the ACA, Health Alliance was certainly a model. If I remember correctly, 90+% of Health Alliance’s gross income goes to pay benefits and claims. That’s pretty high. Of course, one could make the argument that number is artificially high because of the great benefits offered by the state and the U of I, but it’s still much higher and palatable than BCBS’s or HealthLink’s numbers.

  5. - Todd - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 9:17 am:

    BC/BS is what we use in my union’s healthcare plan. We anticipated about an 8% increasein costs, and got hit with 15% plus.

    They are killing us with these increases.

  6. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 10:04 am:

    The whole issue with Blue Cross downstate is that it doesn’t exist! I live and work within 3 miles of 2 large hospitals and can get to my doctor’s office within 10 minutes from my house. With Blue Cross, I can’t use either of those hospitals and would have to drive 50 miles to find a doctor in their network. Its not about who got the contract, its that the contract does not cover the employees who will be forced to pay for it and then receive no benefits!! Thanks again, Quinn, for showing you don’t care and for screwing state employees.

  7. - Way Way Down Here - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 10:25 am:

    ==Geez, whatever happened to capitalism?===

    It doesn’t pay well enough apparently.

  8. - Frank - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 10:37 am:

    The timing of the US Cellular field stories seem very convenient with the hiring of Epstein. I anticipate another major push shortly from the Cubs and Cullerton to get a deal done on Wrigley renovation.

  9. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 10:53 am:

    === Geez, whatever happened to capitalism? You know, private investment? Reinsdorf could have built that restaurant with the change he’d find in his couch cushions. ===

    LOL. Good one Wordslinger.

    Its not much different than the discussion yesterday about Tea Partiers fighting to protect government programs in their own district.

    As I’ve often said, Conservatives like to talk about people “Pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.” But you’ll find very few Conservatives — if any — wearing homemade boots. Those boots were made most likely by someone making the minimum wage. Or much less.

    George W. Bush is a case-in-point.

  10. - walkinfool - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 11:03 am:


    So we protect the Gov’s Executive power to negotiate a contract with BC/BS, but not with AFSCME?

  11. - jake - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 11:05 am:

    The other thing that is missing here is that Blue Cross/Blue Shield does not provide coverage over a large part of downstate. By the decision of the Quinn administration, a large part of downstate was left with no HMO, and with the plans that were chosen providing less complete coverage than the Health Alliance bid, but with higher costs for both the individuals and the state. They stuck with their formula, even though it produced a ridiculous result. They (and the Chicago legislators) say that it was a matter of principle, but whether it was or not, it was a stunning defeat for common sense and a stunning disregard for the welfare of a lot of people. I am a lifelong Democrat, but if you put a recall petition for the Governor in front of me right now, I would sign it and offer to circulate it.

  12. - anon - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 11:23 am:

    What areas does Blue Cross/Blue Shield not provide coverage?

  13. - x ace - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 11:23 am:

    Watched Former Gov. Thompson on WGN last night defend the ballpark deal.

    Coverage of the Cellini trial was on the same newscast.

    Conclusion for the day was:

    “Insider” wheeler dealers get rich and richer.

    (if only I’d been smoother, smarter , greedier , slipperier,and had a tailor, the Edsel would’ve been paid for by now. if only ….)

  14. - Fan of Cap Fax - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 11:29 am:

    Just wanted to say thanks to Sen Frerichs for trying to stick up for the state employees in Central and Southern Illinois.

    I’d have to agree with Jake & Walking Fool. Not good, not good at all.

  15. - Hopalong Cassadeech - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 11:40 am:

    We all pshaw Kass for writing about “The Illinois Combine”…..but it sure seems like the Sox park/Sports Authority stuff is a perfect example of it. Laugh it up, Big Jim.

  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 12:18 pm:

    A taxpayer in Illinios has the right to bring a suit to challenge the misappropriation of public funds. The White Sox story might give somebody an idea.

  17. - jake - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 1:51 pm:

    Re:”What areas does Blue Cross/Blue Shield not provide coverage?”

    For starters, Blue Cross/Blue Shield does not provide coverage in Champaign County. If the administration ultimately prevails, all the Health Alliance subscribers at UIUC will have to move to Preferred Provider plans that are more expensive for the state (based on the bids received) and also for the participants, and provide less complete coverage. I don’t have the map in front of me at this moment, but I know this situation pertains across most of the state south of I-80. The formula knocked out Health Alliance because its HMO was more costly than the Blues HMO, but this is the wrong comparison, because the Blues are just not in central and southern Illinois. The formula should have allowed comparison between options available in the SAME geographic area, but it did not. I don’t blame the administration too much for not foreseeing this situation ahead of time, but I think is incredible, seeing that their formula produced this ridiculous result, that it is fighting to the death to uphold it.

  18. - Bill - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 5:23 pm:

    Aw, quit whining and sign up for Quality Care.

  19. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 6:58 pm:

    BC/BS may have “won” but it was because the evaluation criteria were skewed. If you actually look at RFP, it was rigged from the minute the specifications were written. I was involved in enough procurements over the years I can quickly tell when someone is trying to set up a predetermined outcome.

    You can find the evaluation criteria in the Mercer report to COGFA. The HMO portion had the major portion of points on subjective items with the objective item, cost, being only a small percentage. All the other plans had the objective item, cost, as the major portion of the points and the subjective items as minor points.

  20. - wishbone - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 9:20 pm:

    The real problem with the top 10% having 83% of the economic wealth of the nation is that these rich people just don’t spend enough of that considerable wealth to keep the economy going. Its called the marginal propensity to consume and the more you have the less proportionally you spend. This is the main reason demand for goods and services refuses to rebound. The wealth of the country has been removed from the active economy. It’s a dirty word to many but some form of redistribution of wealth though increased taxes on the super rich is essential to getting the economy going again.

  21. - jake - Thursday, Oct 27, 11 @ 9:44 pm:

    re: “Aw, quit whining and sign up for Quality Care.”

    I assume you are joking?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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