A former state official has agreed to pay a record $100,000 fine to settle charges he violated a state ethics law. Barry Maram is accused of going to work for a state contractor a week after he left his job as director of Healthcare and Family Services.
Maram was HFS director from the earliest days of the Blagojevich administration through April 2010.
Maram went on to take a job with the Chicago law firm Shefsky & Forelich (now part of Taft)
Nearly three million Illinoisans receive benefits in the form of food stamps, welfare or medical help. But one lawmaker says too much of this assistance is being "drained" by drug users.
Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) is proposing changes to the way beneficiaries qualify for assistance. He wants to require drug testing when people sign up for welfare. The representative says the state pays money to people without assessing their ability to be productive.
Illinois' attempts to remove ineligible people from the state's Medicaid rolls are on hold, as Illinois and its largest public employees' union fight over who should actually do the scrubbing. The state says it will appeal a ruling that says it has to cancel its $77 million dollar contract with an outside firm.
Big changes are ahead for Medicaid, the state's health insurance program for the poor. Hundreds of thousands of residents are expected to be added to the rolls under the federal health care law.
But first, Illinois wants to remove people who are ineligible.