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Press Release: Pankau unveils proposal to shrink state's Medicaid payment debt by setting up Medicaid Fund Receipt Account

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 - CaroleforComptroller.com Newswire

In a two-day, 9-city tour, Sen. Carole Pankau, Republican nominee for Comptroller, unveiled a major proposal to help shrink the massive Medicaid debt crisis facing the state.

“We have a Governor who allowed over $2.9 billion in backlogged Medicaid bills to pile up on state government desks at the end of last year, while at the same time, he starts new programs the state cannot afford with money that should go to pay those bills,” Pankau said. “And we have a Comptroller who has remained silent and refuses to stand up and take action to combat the problem.”

Therefore, on her first day as Comptroller, Sen. Pankau said she would set up a “Medicaid Fund Receipt Account” to receive the money that the federal government sends to the state for its Medicaid payments. Currently, Pankau explained, federal Medicaid dollars go directly into the General Revenue Fund and are mixed in with other funds and then used to pay any and all bills, even those unrelated to Medicaid.

The ramifications of the Medicaid debt crisis are being felt all over the state, Pankau said. She cited the case of a 4-year-old southern Illinois girl denied health care at a St. Louis hospital because the state was delinquent on its Medicaid payments. The special needs child's mother was quoted as saying: “When I asked why all this was happening (personnel in the eye clinic at the hospital) told me it was because the state of Illinois has failed to pay any bills to the hospital in more than 200 days.”

Medicaid is a federal program to pay for medical care of citizens unable to afford their own health care. The program is administered by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. When the state pays Medicaid providers, the federal government will then reimburse the state at a 50% match. These funds are then used by the state to continue paying local hospitals, doctors, and other health care practitioners who provide health care for the underprivileged.

“It's common sense,” Pankau said. “When Medicaid reimbursement money comes into the state, the state should send it right to the health care providers who are serving the underprivileged. It's the right thing to do and compassionate thing to do.”

Moreover, as Comptroller, Pankau said she would craft comprehensive Medicaid payment reform legislation so the problem will not re-visit Illinois in the future. But she criticized the lack of leadership on the part of the current Comptroller for not standing up to the Governor in his reckless spending.

“The state has a $2.9 billion backlog in Medicaid bills, but then has gone out and spent billions on new spending it can't afford,” Pankau said. “Most people would say, 'Shouldn't we pay our bills first?'”

Pankau also chided Comptroller Hynes for issuing the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of the state just before the Fourth of July holiday. This report is normally released while the General Assembly is in session so the legislators are aware of the financial health of the state when making budget decisions.

The GOP nominee concluded, “Dan Hynes' silence has not been golden for the state of Illinois. It is time that the taxpayers of Illinois had a fiscal watchdog in the Comptroller's Office who will actively work to help solve the problems we now face.”


BIOGRAPHY:

Carole Pankau is the Republican nominee for Comptroller. Carole is bringing her conservative ideas of fiscal accountability to the people of Illinois. She believes the Comptroller should be more than just the keeper of the state's checkbook. As Comptroller, Carole will stand up for taxpayers, bring transparency to state finances and be a true fiscal officer.

Carole Pankau is from Itasca and currently a State Senator. Before that, Carole served twelve years as a State Representative, eight years on the DuPage County Board and as a grade school board member for eight years. In 1981, Carole received her Bachelor's Degree in Accounting with Honors from the University of Illinois. In every one of these positions, Carole has been an integral part of the budgetary and appropriations process. This expertise makes her uniquely qualified to be Illinois' next Comptroller. Carole has been married to John Pankau for thirty-nine years, has four grown children: John, Jason, Shay and Aaron and seven grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.

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Medicaid debt central in race for comptroller

Friday, September 29, 2006 by Stacy St. Clair - Daily Herald

Illinois owes $1.4 billion in delinquent Medicaid payments - and just who should take the blame for it may be the crux of the state comptroller's race.

State Sen. Carole Pankau of Itasca, the Republican candidate, points the finger at Democratic incumbent Dan Hynes. She says as keeper of the state's checkbook, Hynes has failed to make prompt payments a priority during his two terms in office.

In contrast, Hynes' campaign maintains the unpaid bills fall squarely on the shoulders of fiscally irresponsible legislators like Pankau. For years, Hynes' camp says, she and other members of the General Assembly allowed the state to delay payment of its debts until the next fiscal calendar as a superficial means of balancing the budget.

Both sides agree, though, the delinquent payments threaten the state's health-care system.

Hospitals and pharmacies statewide endure financial burdens as they wait months to be reimbursed. Some doctors are turning away Medicaid patients because of lengthy delays.

Pankau said if elected, she would pay all Medicaid bills within 30 to 45 days. Paying the bills more quickly, she says, would generate revenue because the federal government would reimburse the state for its share at a faster clip.

“Dan Hynes could do this today,” she said. “It's a matter of priorities.”

Pankau said she also would put the federal reimbursements – 50 percent of all Medicaid payouts - in a special fund instead of the state's main checkbook. This would prevent Illinois from using the money on less important projects, she said.

Hynes, whose wife went into labor Thursday, was unavailable for comment. His campaign spokeswoman, however, said he has been a vocal critic of the state's delayed payment practices since taking office eight years ago.

In 2001, Hynes introduced legislation that would have banned lapse-period spending. Last year, he balked at writing checks for projects that he considered to be pork-barrel spending in order to keep down the state's debt.

“He has always made (Medicaid payments) a priority,” campaign spokeswoman Kathy Catrambone said. “But he can only work with the money he has.”

The Hynes campaign contends Pankau bears some of the blame because she remained silent about the delinquent payments during her 13 years in office.

Pankau approved budgets that let the state's bills mount and did not support legislation that would have prohibited bills from rolling over into the next fiscal year, Catrambone said.

“Senator Pankau has been part of the problem,” she said. “She's campaigning against the fiscal mess she created.”

Pankau defends her actions, saying Hynes fails to see his own role in the Medicaid problem.

“He'll blame the General Assembly,” she said. “But it's the comptroller who writes the checks.”


Pankau addresses Medicaid crisis

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 by BILL TUCKER - Edwardsville Intelligencier

Carole Pankau knows that rising medical malpractice insurance premiums aren't the only cause of the state's healthcare woes. In fact, the Illinois State Senator, who is also running on the Republican ticket for state comptroller, said there is a “Medicaid crisis” currently under way.

Pankau said because of mismanagement, Medicaid checks are being distributed to service providers at an alarmingly slow rate.

According to Pankau, Iowa sends its checks out in a 30 to 40 day window while Illinois service providers sometimes don't receive their's for a period between 150 and 160 days.

Pankau made a campaign stop in Edwardsville recently and discussed the “crisis.”

She said doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies are suffering statewide because Medicaid disbursements are so slow in going out.

Pankau mentioned several cases, too, in which patients, including children, have been denied care because they are Medicaid cases and service providers are wary of the state's track record.

She cited the case of a girl from Marion who was denied treatment at a St. Louis hospital because Illinois is notorioously slow in paying out Medicaid.

“Every third child is on Medicaid and often times these kids are denied care beause providers are worried they won't be reimbursed,” Pankau said.

Pankau, who is from Itasca and represents some of Chicago's western suburbs as a state Senator, is running against incumbent Democrat Dan Hynes and the two will face off in the November election.

Pankau said that it is normal for states to be slow in paying bills, but Illinois' situation is unacceptable.

“The state has never been a prompt payer of its bills, but it's never been this bad,” she said.

According to the lastest state audit, Illinois has $2.9 million in backlogged Medicaid bills.

Pankau has a plan to change that.

“We're going to turn state and federal money over faster,” she said.

To do that, she proposes creating a Medicaid Fund Receipt Account.

State and federal dollars targeted for Medicaid would go directly to that fund and not be mixed into the state's general fund as they are now.

And, she said, it's that simple.

According to Pankau, the comptroller is required to make bond payments first and pension payments second. After that, there are no requirements and payments may be made at will.

Pankau said she would make it a top priority to keep Medicaid funds separate and make the payments in a more timely fashion.

Medicaid is a state government-funded program aimed at low-income families that helps them meet healthcare needs.


Pankau wants to be state watchdog

Sunday, September 24, 2006 by Chuck Gysi - The Macomb Journal

MACOMB - State Sen. Carole Pankau wants to be your watchdog in state government. That's why the Republican state senator from Itasca is running for state comptroller. And if she wins election against two-term incumbent Democrat Dan Hynes, her first order of business on her first day in office will be to start tackling the state's Medicaid issue.

On that date, she'd create a Medicaid fund receipt account so that all incoming Medicaid funds from the federal government would be set aside to pay Medicaid providers on an immediate basis. The state matches Medicaid funds on a 50-50 matching basis.

This would be an effort to shrink the state's $2.9 billion Medicaid debt and pay Medicaid bills faster, a problem that has created problems with timely payments to Medicaid providers and caused problems for persons seeking health care when providers won't take on new patients because of the state's payment backlogs.

“It's becoming a crisis,” Pankau said during a stop in Macomb on Thursday prior to meeting with McDonough County Republican supporters. “It's a crisis because it's affecting the quality of health care.”

While the current office-holder has implemented procedures to pay interest to those the state is behind in paying, Pankau said she talked to one doctor in Rockford who told her that the forms to collect the interest from the state were so complicated that he threw away the paper work and instead has limited the number of Medicaid patients he sees in his practice.

Pankau said her plan to kickstart the Medicaid problem should work.

“It's using your cash flow wisely,” she explained.

Pankau noted that Hynes and Gov. Rod Blagojevich are responsible for $1.4 billion in new programs, however the reins need to be tightened.

“For a year or two, maybe a third, we have to tighten our belts,” the senator said.

She added that existing programs need to be reviewed and measurements need to be put into place for each.

Calling the plan to assess programs “Service, Efforts and Accomplishments,” or SEA, Pankau said that 20 other states already have similar procedures to measure program effectiveness.

While Hynes' office currently produces data on the programs, “The problem is the office is not linking the data with the spending,” she said.

“I want to be the taxpayers' watchdog, not the governor's lapdog,” Pankau said.

The former state representative, DuPage County Board member and Keeneyville School Board member also wants to work more closely with the General Assembly and the governor's office by offering input into the state budget process, noting the current comptroller has not taken that approach.

“Where has out chief fiscal officer been?” she asked. “Where is the watcher of the checkbook? He has been silent for three years.


Pankau: Hynes asleep at the wheel as citizens are “run over”

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Carole Pankau, GOP nominee for Comptroller, said today that Dan Hynes' warning about pension, bond, and health care crises occurring in three years is “too little, too late.”

“He should have been speaking out about these things three years ago,” Pankau said. “More specifically, I fault him for not using his position to oppose the Governor's massive fund and pension grabs and new spending programs using Medicaid money. The Comptroller is asleep at the wheel, and Illinois citizens are being run over by the Governor's massive tax and fee increases and raids of funds.”

Pankau said that Comptroller Hynes agreed with the Governor to not make pension payments and signed off on the Governor's fund raids. She said the Comptroller has statutory authority to earmark Medicaid funds coming in from the federal government and pay Medicaid bills with it. Pankau said she would use this authority on her first day in office. By paying Medicaid bills faster, the state will be able to reap more federal Medicaid dollars because of the quicker turnaround in payments. Furthermore, Pankau said she would be pro-active in getting bills off agency desks, which Hynes refuses to do.

“Unfortunately, Dan Hynes is using this office, or more accurately not using this office, as a political stepping stone. I want to use the office to be a watchdog for citizens' tax dollars, not to be a lapdog for the Governor.”

Pankau is currently a state senator from DuPage County and has been a member of the IL General Assembly for 14 years. She has served in budget and appropriations capacities during her tenure, as well as her time serving on her county board. She has her accounting degree from the University of Illinois.


Governor breaking the rules; Comtroller breaking faith with voters

Thursday, September 14, 2006 - CaroleforComptroller.com

Sen. Carole Pankau, GOP nominee for Comptroller, reacted today to the Governor's plans to put a school district at the top of the school construction grant list when it was not even on the list to begin with.

“Gov. Blagojevich is breaking the rules again. He is disobeying the process agreed to by everyone which places school districts on the construction grant list based on greatest need, not politics. And once again, Dan Hynes is not standing up to the Governor. As Comptroller, it is his job to write the check. He has statutory authority to oppose this,” Pankau said.

Pankau joined with a number of lawmakers and school superintendents to oppose the Governor's move. Last week, Gov. Blagojevich told Carterville officials and residents that even though their school district was not on the school construction grant list, he would throw out the old one and make a new list, putting them at the top of it. Pankau responded by noting that school districts that apply for the school district grant program must complete a lengthy process to be accepted. Twenty-three school districts are on the list and have waited years to receive their funding, including Carol Stream School District 93, which is in Pankau's Senate District.

“As State Senator, and State Representative before that, I have fought for the interests of my constituents. I worked very hard for those I represent and try to be fair. While I do not want to diminish the need of the Carterville school, I think we need to honor the bi-partisan commitments that have been made,” Pankau said. “As Comptroller, I will tell the people the truth and not make promises that can't be kept.”

Glen Littlefield, superintendent of Hinckley-Big Rock CUSD 426, said his school district has had to borrow money in order to meet the construction demands of their school district, as it waits for the state to send them their money. Ruth Schneider, superintendent of Stewardson-Strasburg CUSD 5A, said it passed a referendum for the local share of funding for their school construction project. The referendum will expire next March, and if they don't receive the state's share by then, their whole construction project may be sunk.

“People rightly expect their leaders to play by the rules and serve their constituents fairly,” Pankau said. “They don't expect a Governor to pull the rug out from under them, but they certainly do expect a Comptroller who writes the checks to stand up and say 'You can't do that, Governor.' The Governor has a history of politicizing issues. Comptroller Dan Hynes has a history of rolling over for the Governor. Neither are serving constituents well. We need new leaders.”

Pankau said as Comptroller she would follow the rules and write checks for schools on the school construction grant list and oppose any moves to circumvent the process. Moreover, she said, she would provide lawmakers with timely reports on how taxpayer dollars are being spent, unlike the current Comptroller.


Archive: info about Carole Pankau from her previous races

 
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