The Illinois Medicaid program paid an estimated $12 million for medical services for people listed as deceased in other state records, according to an internal state government memo.

The memo dated Friday, which The Associated Press obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, says the state auditor compared clients enrolled in the Medicaid database with state death records dating back to 1970. Auditors identified overpayments for services to roughly 2,900 people after the date of their deaths.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

The heads of the departments of Healthcare and Family Services and Human Services outline steps to fix the problem in the memo to their senior staffs.

The memo states that more than $7 million has been recovered and the rest is expected to be recouped by year's end.

Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Illinois Senate Republicans, said GOP lawmakers will be "outraged" by the findings.

"Obviously when legislators, particularly Republican legislators, learn of this information it will once again validate our pleas for the administration to take seriously our Medicaid reform efforts," Schuh said. "It is abundantly clear that the Quinn administration continuously fails to run the state government - and particularly Medicaid - with any integrity."

Republicans have pressed for the state to use a private company to verify Medicaid eligibility. Maximus Health Services was hired to scrub state Medicaid rolls following 2012 Medicaid-reform legislation. Republicans have said the company was achieving a Medicaid eligibility-removal rate of 40 percent.

But the contract between the company and Gov. Pat Quinn ended last year, and the work was shifted to state employees, after the state's largest public-employee union objected and an arbitrator ruled the contract should end.

Republicans wanted Quinn to appeal the ruling. They have repeatedly said better verification of eligibility and rooting out fraud and abuse could help save the cash-strapped state much-needed funds.

Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, who has been pushing for more accountability in the Medicaid system, said conditions are ripe for problems, even though she didn't anticipate this particular one.

"I'm shocked, but not surprised," Bullock said.