Bollywood performers, a Boston boat cruise with an open bar, gifts of cigars and wine — the vendor working on Illinois’s expensive new Medicaid information-technology system entertains public officials in style, according to sources in the Illinois government.
These whistleblowers tell National Review that when Client Network Services, Inc., was seeking the Medicaid contract, it wined and dined state officials, who then circumvented Illinois’s standard procurement procedures in order to outsource the multimillion-dollar contract to CNSI, which is currently under criminal investigation in Louisiana. CNSI, headquartered in Maryland, has a history of work of questionable quality, overrun project budgets, delays, and litigation in several other states.
Documents procured by OpenTheBooks.com, a national transparency organization based in Illinois but involved in all 50 states, have raised questions about the close relationship between Illinois state officials and CNSI. Several whistleblowers tipped off OpenTheBooks.com about what records to request, and National Review spoke to some of them. These sources within the Illinois government allege unethical and potentially unlawful behavior.
It looks like pure Chicago politics, but taxpayers both in Illinois and across the United States may end up footing the bill, since the federal government will pay for 90 percent of Illinois’s system upgrade. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved an upgrade costing as much as $190 million, though the state claims that because it is partnering with Michigan on the project, it will cost only $85 million.