Miércoles, 12 Diciembre, 2018

Judge rules IL not in compliance on Medicaid payments

Wednesday's ruling by Judge Joan Lefkow says officials Wednesday's ruling by Judge Joan Lefkow says officials"have not lived up to their agreements in the civil case. | File
Irune Rengel | 08 Junio, 2017, 16:44

She adds the comptroller "faces an unenviable situation" in deciding which bills to pay but that its approach doesn't comply with standing courts orders.

Judge Joan Lefkow ordered renewed negotiations between IL and health care advocates for the poor, setting a June 20 deadline to be in "substantial compliance" with the decrees.

IL is heading into its third year without a budget.

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The comptroller's office has said it scrambles each month to pay off an overall backlog of bills of more than $14 billion.

For now, however, the judge ordered the state and the MCOs to continue negotiating over the next two weeks to reach a payment agreement. Spending on elementary and high schools was approved by lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner a year ago, but even those payments are behind by more than $1 billion. Rauner, however, has resisted that call, unless the tax increases are accompanied by structural reforms and a property tax freeze, among other items he has said he believes are essential to prevent the tax increases from economically saddling IL households and employers.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow said in her ruling that "although the court means no disrespect to the comptroller, who faces an unenviable situation", putting state-mandated payments ahead of the Medicaid bills was a violation of federal consent decrees and court orders created to ensure that poor people in IL have access to care.

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Lefkow agreed with attorneys for Medicaid recipients and managed care organizations who say that IL is underfunding the program in defiance of federal court decrees. Debt payments, pension contributions and distributions to local governments are required under state law.

Lawyers for the Medicaid recipients welcomed the order, saying it helps establish that payments to health-care providers should be at least as high a priority as other payments, including for state salaries. IL law and various other court orders in other consent-decree cases mean the comptroller already has little discretion about how 90 percent of available state money is spent.

"The state has a dilemma that they have a number of court orders and they're going to have to comply with them all", he said.

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Further, Madigan said an order effective July 1 would "send a message to the Illinois General Assembly and Governor that they have until June 30 to resolve the State's budget impasse and avoid the consequences of the Court's order".

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