Public employees and retirees in Chicago may have their temporary health insurance plans extended a full year, pending the results of a legislative panel. Lawmakers will convene on August 16 to determine whether insurance coverage for state employees should be extended. The plans were initially issued by the state government to provide state employees with health care while legislative disputes raged on, threatening to leave them without any coverage. As the political disputes erupted, public employers were told that their insurance plans would continue for another 90 days while lawmakers resolved existing insurance issues.
The surprise move from the Legislature has surprise Chicago’s myriad consumer advocacy groups. Jane Hayes, spokeswoman for Health Alliance, spoke with Chicago’s News-Gazette, saying that the extension will give lawmakers more time to sort out the issue of self-insurance for the state. This also bodes well for policyholders, as they will have health insurance for much longer than they had originally anticipated.
Major disputes began when Chicago lawmakers rejected bids from two of the state’s largest insurance companies: Health Alliance Medical Plans and Humana. The plans provided by these two companies are favored by state employees, but the Chicago Legislature has been pushing for a self-insurance option. Now, the dispute is largely focused around where authority to reject contracts lies.
While these disputes are tied up in court, state employees can expect to continue receiving health insurance benefits.