Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: February 23 – 27, 2015

Springfield, Ill – In legislative action, the Senate will reconvene March 3. Committees will begin meeting in earnest to act on introduced legislation, and the governors proposed budget.

Senate Republicans have introduced a number of measures, including legislation targeting Medicaid fraud, improving the states job climate,

Syverson retains Leadership Post and is assigned added Responsibilities

Senator Dave Syverson was reappointed as Assistant Republican Leader in the Illinois Senate.

Syverson will continue his role as the ranking member on the Health and Human Services committee, along with the Senate Executive Committee, Public Health Committee, and Insurance Committee. Beginning this year, he will also serve on the Energy Committee.

In addition will continue in his role on the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA).

Legislation would create School Safety Task Force

Making schools safer for Illinois children is the intent of legislation to establish an Illinois School Security and Standards Task Force.

Senate Bill 1931 creates the School Security and Standards Task Force to study the current security conditions, make recommendations and draft minimum standards for schools to provide a safer learning environment for students. The Task Force is to submit its report to the General Assembly and the Governor.

The Task Force brings together individuals who have knowledge, experience, and expertise in the security field, or who have worked within school systems. Appointed members would include parents, law enforcement officials, firefighters, security professionals, teachers and school administrators.

Goal of workers’ compensation reform legislation is to make Illinois more competitive

Seeking to help Illinois attract investment, create jobs, and end fraud and abuse, legislation has been filed that would address the “primary causation” issue in Illinois’ workers’ compensation law.

Senate Bill 846 would require an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance to pay a claim only if the employee’s injury was caused primarily by a workplace accident. Employers have complained that Illinois’ law is a significant financial burden, which makes the state a less desirable place to do business. 

Business groups point to Indiana and Missouri, where premiums are less than half of what employers pay in Illinois. Twenty-nine states have a more stringent causation standard than Illinois.

Medicaid legislation seeks greater accountability—and taxpayer savings

Responding to new reports that Illinois paid millions for medical services for persons already recorded as dead, or had left the state, new legislation has been introduced intending to weed out Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse. Supporters say it would make the system work for the people who truly need the benefits while saving Illinois tax dollars.

Senate Bill 815 states that the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) must contract with a third-party vendor to examine Illinois’ Medicaid rolls. That vendor would make sure Medicaid recipients on the list are eligible to receive benefits. This process would include income verification and determining whether the person is alive.

The Illinois Auditor General reported in early February that DHFS paid $3.7 million for medical services to about 1,100 people who were already recorded as dead.  Similarly, the AP reported in early 2014 that a state audit found an estimated $12 million had been paid for medical services for deceased people.

In 2013, a state-hired private contractor, Maximus, identified more than 220,000 people it said should be dropped from the Medicaid rolls. Illinois then removed more than 114,000 from the system. But, before Maximus could finish combing through the millions of more names in the system, the Quinn Administration stripped the company of its ability to make case review recommendations.

Review of ‘Common Core’

As educators across Illinois prepare to begin administering the federal “Common Core” assessment tests, a Senate Resolution encourages the State Board of Education to opt out of the Common Core State Standards until a thorough review of associated costs can be conducted. Senate Resolution 89 also advances the creation of a state plan identifying how to provide the funding necessary for school districts to comply with the controversial new Common Core standards.

Although 45 states opted into the Common Core State Standards Initiative in 2010, since that time three states have opted out of Common Core, while dozens more are considering legislation that would repeal their involvement. Additionally, seven Governors have opted to use their executive authority to alter, reduce or delay use of Common Core in their state.

Senate Resolution 89 would put the brakes on implementation of the Common Core standards until a more in-depth review can be completed.

Dave Syverson

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