Legislature Questions Taxpayer Costs of Weight Loss Drugs Used by Illinois State Employees | Illinois

(Central Square) – Gov. JB Pritzker’s office pushed to expand the availability of expensive weight-loss drugs to state government employees by including them in a budget implementation bill. The move could cost Illinois taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars starting this summer.

State Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, said the coverage expansion was made at the last minute and said there was an agreement between the director of the Department of Central Management Services and the governor’s office on the cost of the last-minute addition. However, emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act are redacted.

“Why would these messages be redacted? CMS is asking for $210 million for weight-loss drugs – which is how much the governor’s office says the program will cost. But outside experts say it will cost three times as much,” Plummer said.

Given Pritzker’s experience in forecasting revenues and expenses compared to those of outside groups, Plummer said he would discontinue the services of outside groups.

“We’ve seen other programs recommended by this governor just explode in cost,” Plummer said. “Typically, when there are elements in the budget that you would like to consider sufficient, the due diligence has been done and there is enough transparency for both parties to reflect on it and say, ‘OK, we’re OK with these numbers.’ We have not received information about what the ministry’s analysis revealed in this case. Has CMS conducted an analysis?”

Without insurance, Ozempic costs about $950 per month on average. The coverage expansion includes Wegovy, Mounjaro and Ozempic. Last year, comedian Amy Schumer spoke on cable television about why she stopped taking Ozempic. She said the side effects made her feel sick. Ozempic is an FDA-approved drug.

Under the 2025 budget plan, the state employee group health and life insurance program is expected to receive more than $6.9 billion, an overall increase of 21% from last year. Taxpayers and state employees share in the costs of the program.

Plummer questioned the CMS deputy director during a recent Senate executive nominations hearing.

“I’m curious if you know if the department has recommended funding for the program or done an analysis of what it would take to fully fund treatment with these weight loss drugs?” Plummer asked.

CMS Acting Deputy Director Aundra Williams said she could not answer questions about the redacted communications obtained through a FOIA request by WBEZ Chicago because the CMS benefits agency reports directly to CMS Director Raven DeVaughn.

“The agency values ​​the ability to respond to the Legislature, so I’m happy to follow up on benefits because I’m probably not the best at speaking on this topic,” Williams said.

Plummer told The Center Square that Senate Republicans asked the department for information about the pre-hearing analysis but did not receive a response. Plac Centralny confirmed that an analysis had been carried out, but the department never responded to a question about the analysis itself.

In connection with the FOIA redaction, the department told The Center Square that the state uses licensed attorneys to interpret and apply existing FOIA provisions and that the information was deemed exempt from disclosure.

Last year’s BIMP supplement did not cover the 3.9 million disabled and low-income Illinoisans covered by Medicaid. Therefore, Illinois residents on Medicaid are not covered for weight loss drugs.

Over the past two years, the state employee group insurance program has grown by 6,000 people and their dependents.

Due to resident migration, Illinois now has a relatively larger government as a percentage of its population, according to the latest Rich States, Poor States report.