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Senators question CMS Director on concerns with rushed contract

cms hearing 062817SPRINGFIELD- Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) held a hearing today to address concerns over a nearly $100 million taxpayer-funded contract to a private company charged with creating online efficiency in state employee health insurance processing.

“In my opinion, this process was rushed. If I would have received one bidder for something of this magnitude I would have wanted to find more or expand the recruitment,” Lightford said.

Among the concerns addressed during this afternoon’s hearing were suggestions that the Rauner administration excluded state guidelines aimed at encouraging minority-owned business opportunities and may have given preference to a Georgia-based company, Morneau Shepell.

Central Management Services Director Mike Hoffman was called as a witness in the Executive Subcommittee on Special Issues to provide clarity on the process of awarding the Morneau Shepell contract.

“I am still concerned that there are no savings and that the company contracted does not have a substantial amount of Illinois employees. I would like to learn more about the company’s minority employment numbers and any reports they have submitted to the state on its progress with the health care portal,” Lightford said.

“While there are number of issues with the online employee benefits system, the initial procurement procedures are also extremely alarming considering the guidelines for minority-owned businesses were left out,” said Senator Mattie Hunter, also a member of the subcommittee. “Minority-owned businesses are a huge part of the economic and social progress of the American workforce. It’s a shame we have a governor that campaigns on growing businesses in the state of Illinois but makes it harder for minorities to succeed.”

During the subcommittee, legislators asked the agency to lay out some of the issues with the online insurance database, which over 400,000 public employees and retirees use to choose their own health care benefits. The Rauner administration’s $94 million initiative was touted to streamline health benefit choices but instead made matters worse for some workers.

“The process was rushed. I believe there should have been much more preparation in creating this online database,” said Hunter. “Today the director said only one contractor bid in the process. If that was the case, more time should have been dedicated to leveling the playing field for potential competing contractors.”

 

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