Behind the numbers
Monday, Dec 23, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller
* Finke reiterates something I told you about a few weeks ago…
Now that pension reform is on the books, the anti-public union/public employee folks will have to turn their attention in a new direction for a while.
Thankfully, Medicaid fraud is available to take up the slack.
As part of Medicaid reforms passed a couple of years ago, state agencies were required to review Medicaid rolls to get rid of people no longer eligible for benefits. Face it, if a recipient lives in Wisconsin, Illinois shouldn’t be paying his bills.
The state wasn’t exactly vigilant in dumping ineligible people from the program. Whether this was due to a lack of willpower or lack of manpower is still being argued, although it’s worth noting that the state’s workforce is significantly smaller than it was a decade ago.
Anyway, an arbitrator ruled last summer that the eligibility review work should be done by state employees, not Maximus, the private contractor hired by the state. Last week, the administration announced the results of negotiations to implement the ruling. It includes hiring more than 500 new workers, but also keeping Maximus around in a limited role for a while longer. Immediately, some were predicting doom and gloom because public, rather than private, workers will be doing the work. […]
One number tossed around last week was that Maximus found 40 percent of those receiving benefits were ineligible. At least, that’s how some people characterized it.
Baloney. Maximus reviewed about 497,000 Medicaid cases since the beginning of 2013. Of those, the final review work was completed on about 315,000 cases. And of those, 40 percent were found to be fraudulent and terminated.
So it’s not 40 percent of all Medicaid cases, it’s 40 percent of those checked, which is far less. Also, the ones that were checked first were mostly cases where the state already had suspicions. In other words, easy pickings. Once those are gone, it’s entirely possible the rate of fraud discovered will go down.
It’s more than just entirely possible, it’s almost guaranteed.
* Meanwhile, Crain’s buried a choice nugget deep in a story about business tax credits…
Regular EDGE, or Economic Development for a Growing Economy, credits, which reduce a company’s state income taxes, have been awarded to 277 companies, totaling about $800 million, since the program started in 2001. In return, those firms invested nearly $8.5 billion in Illinois and created 49,300 jobs, more than twice the number estimated, according to a spokesman for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Another 48,320 jobs were retained, slightly more than expected.
But in recent years, nine companies that pay little or no state income taxes, including Sears Holdings Corp., Motorola Mobility Inc. and Ford Motor Co., have won special legislation allowing them to keep part of the personal state income taxes paid by their employees if they invest and keep or create jobs in Illinois.
“Is that fair to a plumbing company with six people?” says Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, who will co-chair next month’s hearing on business tax incentives. “Can they afford the most-connected lobbyists to go after tax breaks?”
Only Motorola Mobility, now owned by Google Inc., has collected on those credits so far, according to a DCEO spokesman. [emphasis added.]
* From an unemployment benefit story from the Sun-Times…
This year has seen a trifecta of challenges for Lynn Richards, 30, of Elgin.
In April, she was laid off from her manufacturing purchasing job of 3½ years.
Her unemployment insurance kicked in, then she became pregnant during her job search.
Now Richards, who is married with a son and hasn’t yet found work, is among 80,000 Illinoisans expected to lose federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation on Saturday.
“I’ve been working since I was 20. I’ve never had this much trouble getting a job in my life. I’ve applied to like 200 places. I’ve gotten less than 10 calls and a couple of interviews,” she said. “Unfortunately now, no employer wants to hire someone [who is] pregnant.”
An estimated 1.3 million Americans who are the long-term unemployed are due to have their benefits cut off just after Christmas because Congress didn’t extend the recession initiative in its compromise budget bill passed by the Senate last week.
Another 1.9 million currently receiving state jobless benefits due to run out the first half of 2014 also will be affected, as they would have qualified for the federal compensation.
* County by county list of those who lost their benefits…
Du Page 4,965
Jo Daviess 52
La Salle 933
Rock Island 515
Saint Clair 1,667