Health Alliance Loses Retiree Contract
By Jeff Bossert and Sean Powers
The state of Illinois has removed Urbana-based Health Alliance from its list of retiree contracts, as of 2014.
That will force 6,000 retired state employees who rely on Carle Hospital for care to turn to one of four other carriers by January - Medicare Advantage plans with Aetna Life, Humana Health, Humana Benefit or United Healthcare. None of them have Carle in its list of providers.
Health Alliance spokeswoman Jane Hayes said the insurer submitted a competitive bid, and can’t explain why the state would choose the other providers.
She said there may be no point in protesting the move.
“I’m not sure what the recourse is, but I think it might be a futile attempt if they’ve demonstrated already that they aren’t concerned about these retirees, and those who have to change their health care providers in addition to their health care coverage," Hayes said.
A total of 15,000 state retirees use Health Alliance. State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana) said she was surprised by the announcement.
"I do know that there are numerous retirees who have Health Alliance, and especially for retirees because they may have had a long-going relationship with a physician and really want to stay with that physician,” Jakobsson said.
Two years ago, Health Alliance wasn’t chosen for state or retiree health contracts, prompting legislative and court action that eventually led to its services being restored. The insurer filed a formal protest that year, but Hayes said she is not sure that will happen again this time.
State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) said he wants answers from the state about its decision this time to remove Health Alliance.
“They assured the legislature that there would be local networks in place," Rose said. "Now you remember two years ago when they tried to dump all state employees from Health Alliance, they had no local networks in place. They assured that that wouldn’t happen this time. So, I think it’s awfully interesting that they’re doing this under the cover of darkness. That’s my main goal is to try to find someone over there that can answer some damn questions.”
A call seeking comment from the Illinois’ Department of Central Management Services was not immediately returned.