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SPRINGFIELD -- A legislative panel voted Wednesday to force the Quinn administration to renegotiate health insurance contracts for state employees.

But the governor's office has indicated the contracts affecting tens of thousands of workers and retirees will go forward anyway, triggering talk of legal action that could keep the controversy brewing into the summer.

During a meeting of the General Assembly's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability on Wednesday, state Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, proposed a motion to suspend the policy of allowing the state to have self-insured plans for its employees, with the exception of those under contract currently, which include Health Alliance and Humana.

Murphy said he wants the state to rebid the health insurance contracts. He said he wasn't satisfied with the cost savings estimated by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

"I think it would be in the best interest of the state and their employees and taxpayers if it were rebid," Murphy said.

Despite the motion winning approval on an 8-3 vote, the Governor's Office said it will not rebid the contracts, because then the bidding process would no longer be competitive.

"We're moving forward," Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan said.

The deadline for Health Alliance customers to choose a health plan is now June 17, according to the Department of Central Management Services.

State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, the commission's chair, said the vote contradicted an earlier Attorney General's opinion that said the commission could not rule on individual contracts, but it could make decisions about the overall policy of self-insurance.

"Right now the disagreement will shift to the courts," Schoenberg, D-Evanston, said. "The commission's vote runs directly contrary to Attorney General Madigan's opinion."

The Executive Ethics Commission also ruled Tuesday that the Department of Healthcare and Family Services followed the proper procedure in awarding the new contracts.

Callahan said most people will still be able to keep their doctors, and they likely will not have to pay more to do so.

There's also a resolution in the works in the General Assembly to try to extend the benefit choice period beyond June 17.

"The right thing to do here is to rebid those contracts," said state Rep. Jason Barrickman, R-Champaign. "If it takes a legislative act to renew the Health Alliance and Humana contracts temporarily, I certainly would support something like that."


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