New threat to state worker benefits, as dental claims are halted

SPRINGFIELD — In a new attack on state workers, 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 state’s group insurance plan.

Meredith Krantz, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, said in a Friday email to the State Journal-Register that all health care services will continue to be paid as long as possible.

But she notes that in the near future, they will no longer have the legal authority to continue to pay health care vendors for their services.

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.

She says that now, however, all applicable fiscal 2015 funding has now been exhausted, and without a budget in place, there is no appropriation or legal authority to continue to pay health care providers.

In addition to the administration’s 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 state’s self-insured plans — which include Delta Dental, Cigna, and the HealthLink and Coventry open access plans — have asked people insured through the state plan to pay cash at the time of service to cover the total cost.