A while back I mentioned an independent audit that found 60% of Medicaid enrollees in the state of Illinois were found to be either ineligible for benefits--or were receiving more in benefits than they were eligible for. The auditors found that errors by state workers processing the initial applications, and failure to review those cases on an annual basis--had cost taxpayers $350-million dollars a year! The report--which covered only half the files of Medicaid recipients in Illinois so far--blew a big hole in the eternal Democratic talking points that welfare fraud is "rare" and that there is nowhere to cut any funding in the Medicaid program.
Well, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has now taken decisive action in the wake of the first report from the independent audit and the revelations of state worker incompetence and downright malfeasance: he has fired..........the independent auditor. In a move reminiscent of Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre"--where the embattled President fired the special investigator who was uncovering too much information about Watergate--Governor Quinn is cutting off the head of the bearer of his own bad news. Meanwhile, I'm yet to find reports anywhere about the firing of the state employees who failed to do their duties properly--and cost taxpayers $350-million dollars a year!
Now, the Governor had some incentive in making his decision--you see AFSCME (the nation's largest public sector employees' union) was threatening to sue Illinois--claiming that only state employees should review state records--not an independent third party. So now the state will hire 500 more full-time employees (500 AFSCME member employees--mind you) to do the work that the independent auditor was doing--except at a higher cost, with state-provided benefits and a state-provided pension. (Good thing Illinois only has $100-BILLION in unfunded liabilities in that pension fund!)
And just how diligent do you think the new employees are going to be in reviewing the work of their "union brothers and sisters"? Do you really think AFSCME is going to allow its own to embarrass each other by pointing out they weren't doing their jobs? And do you think the State will be as forthcoming with the results of the audit process now that it's doing the job in-house--instead of through a company that is going to point to its success in uncovering $350-million dollars a year waste with pride?
Illinois taxpayers could always look on the bright side, if the new state employees do their jobs as well as the original state employees, they will find 40% of the fraud and the errors in the Medicaid program--which would save about $140-million a year. That would cover .14% of their unfunded pension liability--before the hiring of the new employees, that is.