Chicago Aldermen Prove Again They have No Shame
Budget and Government Operations Chairperson Carrie Austin oversees Chicago’s $308 million a year employee healthcare program. The budget entries that allow Alderman Austin to administer $308 million in employee healthcare expenses is eerily similar to the language Alderman Burke used for workers’ compensation.
To allow Budget and Government Operations Chairperson Austin to expend $308 million on healthcare, the budget states:
“For the Costs of Claims and Administration for Hospital and Medical Care Provided to Eligible Employees, Provided However, That All Payments to the Independent Utilization Reviewer Shall Be Subject to the Approval of the Chairman of the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations.”
The budget line items that allowed former Committee on Finance Chairman Edward Burke to expend $115 million for workers’ compensation stated:
“Claims and Costs of Administration Pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act.”
Is Mayor Emanuel Running Chicago?
Alderman Austin has controlled employee healthcare expenses during the entire eight-year tenure of Mayor Emanuel. When voters elected Emanuel in 2011 and 2015, Illinois state law bestowed upon him the title of, “Chief Executive Officer.” Alderman Austin is the final decision maker for each and every healthcare claim and administrative expense, not Mayor Emanuel or one of his subordinates as the law required. If an employee from the benefits office in Chicago’s executive branch of government managed healthcare, then the healthcare administrator and expenses are under Mayor Emanuel’s direct supervision as state law requires. The healthcare claim and administration wording in the budget provides Alderman Austin with the final authority on employee healthcare matters. Since Alderman Austin is not under Mayor Emanuel’s supervision, she is spending the $308 million of taxpayers’ money without oversight or audits, like Alderman Burke did with his $115 million a year workers’ compensation budget.
I filed an Inspector General complaint regarding the improper placement of workers’ compensation in a legislative committee in 2016 and a lawsuit over the same issue in 2018. It took Mayor Emanuel two years to finally agree to move workers’ compensation from the legislative Committee on Finance to the executive branch. I’m hoping a public outcry will speed the process of transferring the administration of Chicago employees’ healthcare plans to the executive branch. Political reporters, candidates for alderman and mayor, please start making lots of noise.
If you want to view some or all of a video on recent Chicago corruption, click here. When I recorded this video, I was only aware of Alderman Austin managing $55 million in funds, not $308 million that I recently uncovered.
If you choose, you may verify my claims about the source and amount of Alderman Austin’s healthcare funds. First click here. Go to the budget’s page number in Column 3 in the table below. Look for the text on the page that states, “For the Costs of Claims and Administration for Hospital and Medical Care Provided to Eligible Employees, Provided However, That All Payments to the Independent Utilization Reviewer Shall Be Subject to the Approval of the Chairman of the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations.”