Kay: Governor should be impeached over FamilyCare 'fraud'

Ann Knef Oct. 7, 2008, 1:12pm



A Republican candidate for the Illinois House says the Blagojevich administration so badly "bungled" the expansion of a state-funded health care program that the governor should be impeached.

Dwight Kay, who is running against incumbent Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, called Blagojevich's handling of an unauthorized insurance plan -- which in December 2007 began enrolling adults with incomes up to 400 percent the federal poverty level -- a "fraud."

"This is administrative malpractice at its worst," Kay told this newspaper.

The controversy arose after Illinois pharmacists were put on notice that the state would not reimburse prescriptions filled through the FamilyCare Program because of a court order.

An appellate court in Cook County recently upheld a lower court's injunction against the expansion, funding and operation of FamilyCare.

The original lawsuit against Blagojevich and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which administered the program, accused the state of raising revenue and collecting health care premiums without constitutional authority.

The FamilyCare Program was launched by the administration last year in spite of major opposition -- the state legislature voted down universal healthcare coverage, and a bi-partisan legislative rules committee twice invalidated the program which expanded insurance coverage to adults with incomes up to $83,000 per year for a family of four. Premiums were paid on an income-based sliding scale.

Kay said Blagojevich "needs to go."

"We have a governor who does not respect the constitution of the State of Illinois," he said.

Kay also blasted his opponent for distributing campaign literature which touts his help in providing "affordable health care to 500,000 working families."

"The very week to which Hoffman is spending thousands of campaign dollars to tell voters of his achievements, he and the Governor's plan is being exposed as a fraud, with families to be left with only the Governor's empty promises, but also with providers to be left with the bill," Kay said in a press release.

Pharmacist Todd Evers, who operates Evers Pharmacy in Collinsville, said the FamilyCare program operated only for a short period of time and only represented a "small population" of his clientele.

But, he said, it was wrong for the state to leave pharmacists on the hook.

"If it was Blue Cross/Blue Shield or any other insurance company you can bet the Department of Insurance or the attorney general would be after them," he said.

Evers said he was notified "some time ago" that the state was not going to cover reimbursements for the FamilyCare program.

"They promised these people coverage," Evers said. "They told providers they would be paid for goods and services. Now they're going to take it back. It's not right."

What's worse, said Kay, is that administration officials have admitted in court that they don't have a handle on the program's accounting.

Justice Smith wrote in his opinion that during trial court proceedings, the state admitted it "could not monitor or refund premium payments, could not provide plaintiffs with information regarding where the monies from premium payments were kept and how much remained, could not identify or dis-enroll adult participants, could not send notice to the participants or providers in the program to stop payments and, ultimately, did not know which of the millions of adults enrolled in medical assistance programs were receiving benefits specifically under the FamilyCare Program."

Kay said the state "will likely be subject to litigation from displaced providers and patients" which will cost taxpayers even more.

"I think they (Blagojevich and Hoffman) should dip into their own campaign funds to help reimburse the health care providers," Kay said.

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