The McDermed Dispatch for December 19th

The Illinois 100th General Assembly will meet briefly on January 7th and 8th before the 101st General Assembly is sworn in on January 9th. The swearing in will be presided over by Governor Rauner, as Governor-Elect Pritzker does not take office until January 14th.

Diaper Drive Coming to a Close

Diapers can cost over $100 a month and you can’t buy diapers with food stamps or through other assistance programs. Most mothers living in poverty run out of clean diapers, which increases health risks for young infants and without diapers, parents cannot bring their child to most daycares, leaving them unable to go to work. Today is the last day to donate to my diaper drive. Please spread the holiday spirit and help me donate to local non-profits that work with impoverished young families. Thank you to everyone who has donated to this great cause!

MF Tax Hike Proposed

Illinois’ motor fuel tax on gasoline is 19 cents per gallon and hasn’t been raised since 1990. However, because Illinois applies sales tax and other additional taxes to gas, Illinois has the 10th highest effective tax rate in the nation.

All revenue from the tax goes to the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. In Fiscal Year 2017, $1.35 billion in State revenue was collected (approximately the same amount as was raised in FY16).

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently proposed raising the gas tax by 20 to 30 cents per gallon to fund a new Capital program and infrastructure improvements. That would more than double the current 19 cents per gallon State gas tax. Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn has also called for an increase in the State gas tax by at least 15 cents per gallon.

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker didn’t dismiss the possibility of a gas tax hike to help pay for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, but he also cautioned that a major capital construction program won’t come quickly when his administration begins Jan. 14.

GA Undertakes Consolidation Effort

Under a new law signed on December 10th, two nonpartisan research offices, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) and the Legislative Research Unit (LRU), are merging. This action helps the General Assembly to reduce administrative expenses by eliminating full-time staff positions. CGFA will be the surviving office within the overall merger. The bill also reduces taxpayer costs by streamlining some reporting requirements and allows for reports to be filed electronically.

CGFA, the General Assembly’s budget-monitoring, and research arm, was in place to examine and oversee trends involving Illinois’ tax revenues, budgets, and spending. As a nonpartisan oversight panel with jurisdiction over cash flow issues, the LRU was available to conduct research projects into issues of state policy other than appropriations and budget matters. For example, if a legislator or a legislative committee wanted to study the current status of legislation among the 50 states in issues such as criminal law or financial regulation, they could go to LRU and get a research report.

Health Care Fraud Report

In its latest report, the Governor’s Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force showed that it successfully avoided or recouped $218 million in wasteful or fraudulent Medicaid spending. The effort resulted in 39 fraud convictions including $27.8 million in recoveries through criminal prosecutions, civil actions, and/or administrative referrals. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) saved or recouped an estimated $190 million in FY18.  The task force has saved the state more than $665 million since its inception in 2016.

Chaired by Executive Inspector General Susan Haling, the task force’s purpose is to develop and coordinate a comprehensive plan to prevent and eliminate health care fraud, waste, and abuse by deploying a cross-agency, data-driven approach. The Task Force specifically focuses on reducing wasteful spending and fraud in Medicaid, Worker’s Compensation, and State Employee Group Insurance. In FY 2017, members of the Task Force participated in the 2018 National Health Care Fraud Takedown, which was the largest health care fraud enforcement action in the U.S. Department of Justice History. The Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s participation led to the indictment of 14 people responsible for approximately $430,000 in fraudulent claims in the Medicaid Home Services Program.

DHFS also rolled out a program in April 2016 that provides hospitals with the opportunity to self-audit overpayments and billing errors. The program has since resulted in the identification of $4.4 million in overpayments.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and have a joyous holiday season!